China's latest set of PMI data indicated slowdown in the country's activity growth. The official manufacturing index was reported to have dropped -0.6 point to 51.2 in April, whist the non-manufacturing PMI declined -1.1 points to 54 for the month. The slowdown was broadly based: the 'output' index slipped -0.4 point to 53.8 and the 'new orders' index dropped -1point to 52.3. The 'new export orders' index fell for the first time in 4 months, losing -0.3 point to 50.5, although the three-month moving average remained up. The 'input price' index sank -7.5 points to 51.8. The trend indicates that PPI inflation should have slowed more sharply in April. Recall that the March reading was +7.6% and the February reading was a record higher of +7.8%. The only sub-index that has shown improvement was the 'stock of finished goods' index, which gained +0.9 point to 48.2.
As widely anticipated, RBA left its cash rate, for an 8th meeting, at 1.5% in April. While headline CPI has more or less reached the central bank's target level, the core reading has remained subdued. Policymakers have decided to take more time to gauge the inflation outlook before action. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has remained elevated while excess capacity in the job market has rendered wage growth weak. The RBA reiterated its rhetoric on the housing market, suggesting conditions 'continue to vary considerably around the country'. Policymakers would be cautious over adopting another rate cut as previous reductions have caused a surge in housing produces and rebound in investment related credit growth. A rate hike is equally unlikely as Australian dollar has remained at historically high levels.
In US, long term treasury yields jumped after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that ultra-long bonds are "something that could absolutely make sense for us at Treasury." 30 year yield rose 0.059 to close at 3.011, back above 3.000 handle and took out 55 day EMA. 10 year yield also rose 0.043 to close at 2.325, but was limited below last week's high and 55 day EMA. Mnuchin also said that it will probably take two years to hit 3% growth, with the help of tax and regulatory reforms, as well as better international trade agreements. He emphasized that USD 2% in revenue can be generally over 10 years if growth is boosted from 2% to 3%. Dollar is trading mixed after weaker than expected ISM manufacturing released overnight. NASDAQ extended the record run and rose 0.73% to close at 6091.6. S&P 500 also rose 0.17% but was limited below 2400 handle. DJIA lost -0.13%.
Dollar turns mixed in early US session after weaker than expected economic data. Personal income rose 0.2% in March versus consensus of 0.3%. Personal spending rose 0.0% versus consensus of 0.2%. Headline CPI slowed to 1.8% yoy, down from 2.1% yoy. Core PCE slowed to 1.6% yoy down from 1.8% yoy. Dollar traders will look into the string of key events this week for guidance. Fed is widely expected to keep policies unchanged on Wednesday. But at this point, Fed fund futures are pricing in over 60% of a June hike. Markets would be eager to get some hints for that in this week's FOMC statement. Meanwhile, ISM indices and non-farm payroll would shed some lights on how the US economy would rebound after a weak Q1.
Dollar trades mildly higher in Asian session today. Trading is subdued with China, Swiss, France, Germany, Italy and UK on holiday. The greenback is lifted mildly by news that the US Congress has reached a tentative agreement on a USD 1T bill to keep the government running through the end of September. A vote could be held as early as Tuesday to confirm. And this would prevent a government shut down. But the real tests for the greenback would be from economic data and FOMC meeting. Fed is widely expected to keep policies unchanged this week. But at this point, Fed fund futures are pricing in over 60% of a June hike. Markets would be eager to get some hints for that in this week's FOMC statement. Meanwhile, ISM indices and non-farm payroll would shed some lights on how the US economy would rebound after a weak Q1..
Euro surged sharply for the initial part of last week as boosted by the result of French president election. The common currency ended the week as the strongest major currency. But it has clearly lost some momentum after a balanced ECB press conference. On the other hand, Sterling continued to defy gravity and picked up momentum again towards the end of the week. The British Pound has indeed ended April as the strongest major currency for the month. The weakness in the Japanese Yen might take some attention. But it was the selloff in commodity currencies, in a risk-seeking environment, that is worth the watch. Meanwhile, Dollar found no support from US President Donald Trump's tax plan, but it didn't react negatively to Q1 GDP miss neither.
Dollar is mild pressure against European majors in early US session after weaker than expected growth data. Q1 GDP in US grew 0.7% annualized, sharply lower than prior quarter's 2.1% and missed expectation of 1.1%. While it's common to have a soft first quarter in recent years, the miss could prompt some adjustment in market's expectation on overall growth for the year. GDP price index, on the other hand, rose 2.3%, up from prior quarter's 2.1% and beat expectation of 2.0%. Employment cost index rose 0.8% in Q1, above expectation of 0.6%. While the greenback stays weak against European majors, in particular Sterling, it's showing some strength against Aussie and Yen and stays firm against Canadian Dollar.
The financial markets are rather steady as the week is heading for close. Euro remains the strongest major currency for the week even though it's losing some upside momentum. In particular, there is some selling seen in the common currency after ECB press conference yesterday. And on the other hand, Sterling is picking up momentum in Asian session and could overtake Euro's place. Japanese Yen and commodity currencies are generally weak. Canadian dollar got a brief lift on news that US is staying with NAFTA earlier this week. But renewed selling in crude oil is dragging down the Loonie again. Dollar is trading mixed for the moment as markets found little inspiration from US President Donald Trump's tax plan.
ECB left the monetary policy and the QE program unchanged in April. That is, the main refi rate, marginal lending rate and the depo rate stayed unchanged at 0%, 0.25% and -0.40%, respectively. Meanwhile, the asset purchase program would be continued at the pace of 60B euro per month from this month, through to the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary.
Euro is staying in tight range against Dollar and Yen, and weakens against Sterling. ECB kept monetary policies unchanged today as widely expected. The key interest rate is held at 0.00%, marginal lending facility rate at 0.25% and the deposit facility rate at -0.40%. Asset purchase at was also kept unchanged at EUR 60b per month. ECB President Mario Draghi said in the post meeting press conference that "downside risks have further diminished" as data confirmed "cyclical recovery of euro area economy is becoming increasingly solid". And he also described the improving growth and recovery as "solid and broad".
The financial markets had very little reaction to the highly anticipated announcement of tax reforms by US President Donald Trump. DJIA reversed earlier gains and closed slightly lower by -0.1% at 20975.09. S&P 500 also closed down -0.05% at 2387.56. Both were held below record intraday highs of 21169.11 and 2400.98 respectively. 10 year yield also closed lower, losing -0.016, at 2.311. The dollar index struggled to find follow through buying above 99 and is back at 98.90 in Asian session. In the currency markets, Euro remains the strongest major currency for the week, followed by Sterling and Swiss Franc. Yen remains the weakest one after BoJ stands pat, raised growth forecast but lowered inflation projections. Canadian dollar is still trading down for the week but is given a mild boost on news that US will stay with NAFTA for the moment.
USDCAD consolidated after a brief break about 1.36, following US' announcement to impose anti-subsidy tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross indicated that the "countervailing duties" would range from 3-24% and would be imposed on 5 Canadian lumber exporters including West Fraser Timber Co., after concluding that Canada subsidizes its industry in a way that hurts the US. Ross added that the move is a sign to other trading partners that the US is planning stricter enforcement of trade laws. Canada responded by saying that the tariff is "unfair and punitive".
Dollar strengthens broadly today as markets are eagerly awaiting US President Donald Trump's tax reform plan. Dollar index is back above 99 after dipping to as low as 98.69 earlier this week. Meanwhile, stocks are also looking for fresh stimulus as DJIA and S&P 500 are looking at making new records highs. On the other hand, Euro and other European majors are paring some gains as the boost from French election fades. Euro traders are also getting cautious ahead of tomorrow's ECB rate announcement and press conference. The Japanese Yen stays soft, except versus Aussie and Kiwi, as tensions in North Korea escalates. Canadian Dollar, on the other hand, is recovering mildly despite weak retail sales.
Markets remain in full risk on mode this week. DJIA gained 232.23 pts or 1.12% to close at 20996.12 overnight. S&P 500 also rose 14.46 pts or 0.61% to close at 2388.61. Both indices took out structural resistance at 20887.5 and 2378.36 respectively and should be heading for new record highs. Meanwhile, NASDAQ maintains its lead and closed at new record high at 6025.49, up 0.7%. Treasury yields also jumped with 10 year yield closing up 0.054 at 2.327. That compares to last week's low at 2.177 and structural resistance at 2.391. A break above 2.391 will pave the way for a test on 2.621 key near term resistance. Dollar stays weak against European majors though. But the dollar index is losing some downside momentum below 98.85 support.
European majors stay generally firm today, continuing to ride on the boost from French election result. Meanwhile, Dollar closely follow as strong risk appetite lifts Fed rate hike expectations. Meanwhile, markets are eagerly waiting for US President Donald Trump to announce his tax reforms. Commodity currencies are generally under pressure and decoupled from stock markets. In particular, Canadian Dollar is pressured by weakness in oil prices, as well as US's announcement of tariffs for lumber products.
The global financial markets were blessed by centrist Emmanuel Macron's win in the first round of French presidential election. CAC 40 gained 4.14% yesterday to close at 9 year high at 5268.85. DAX rose 3.37% to close at record high at 12454.98. In particular, CAC took out prior resistance at 5142.81 by a margin. DAX's break of prior resistance at 12390.75 was also solid. US indices followed with NASDAQ closing at record high at 5983.82, up 1.24%. DJIA and S&P 500 rose 1.05% and 1.08% resistance but are both kept well below recent highs so far. Asian equities follow with Nikkei trading back above 19000 handle.
Euro pares back some French election triggered gains, but stays broadly higher against all other major currencies. Meanwhile, Japanese Yen is trading as the weakest as markets are on risk on mode. Markets generally welcome the results of the election and centrist Emmanuel Macron's win in the first round is seen as a boost to the Euro. Forward Eonia bank-to-bank rates also imply a roughly 60% chance of a 10bps hike by ECB by the end of March 2018, up from just 20% chance last week. European stocks are trading broadly higher with CAC up 4.5%, DAX up 3.1% and FTSE up 1.9% at the time of writing. In other markets, Gold drops sharply to as low as 1266.0, down more than -1.3% today. WTI recovers mildly but fails to find follow through buying above 50 handle.
Euro soars across the broad today as markets are happy with the results of the first round of French presidential election. With 97% of the vote counted, centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen secured 23.9% and 21.4% support respectively. And as generally expected, they will enter the second and final round of the French election, scheduled on May 7. Higher support for Macron is also seen as a sign of solid support for staying with Euro. Meanwhile, after accepting defeat conservative Francois Fillon and leftist Benoit Hamon called their supports to choose Macron over Le Pen. According to recent polls by Ifop, Ipsos and Elabe, Macron would easily beat Le Pen in a head-to-head run-off, by a wide margin.
With 97% of the vote counted, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen would enter the second and final round of the French election, scheduled on May 7. The election result of the first round came in largely as projected in opinion polls. Yet, the market was thrilled with the euro soaring to the highest level in 5 months, rallying as much as +2% at one point. Indeed, the strength in the single currency was broadly based. EURJPY jumped more than +3% before retreat while both EURGBP and EURCHF have risen over +1%.DJIA futures also soared, reflecting improving sentiment. The market was relieved as Macron is believed to have higher chance to win eventually and thus a Frexit referendum could be avoided. Besides, the market reaction also reflected how tight the race was. The market refrained from relying on opinion polls as the supports for major candidates were close and the percentage of undecided voters was high. Meanwhile, the predictive power of opinion polls has be doubtful after the surprising results of Brexit referendum and US presidential election
Geopolitical tensions somewhat took a back seat last week. The headlines were filled by news of UK snap election, French election, and to a lesser extent US tax reform. Sterling ended the week as the strongest major currency after boosted by the news of snap election and prospect of a "softer" Brexit. Euro survived the terrorist attack in Paris and French election uncertainties to end as the second strongest one. Dollar ended the week mixed as markets seemed not too convinced by news of Trump administration's tax reform. Meanwhile, Canadian Dollar ended as the weakest one as dragged down by WTI crude oil's sharp fall and break of 50 handle. The result of French election on Sunday will be the first market mover this week.