West Texas crude has inched upwards in the Tuesday session. In North American trade, WTI crude futures are trading at $53.37. Brent crude futures are trading at $56.08, as the Brent premium trades at $2.71. On the release front, the US trade deficit jumped to $48.5 billion, higher than the estimate of $47.0 billion. On Wednesday, the US releases ADP Nonfarm Employment Change, ahead of the official Nonfarm Payrolls report on Friday. As well, the US releases the weekly Crude Oil Inventories report.
Donald Trump has been in office for over a month but still continues to create controversy on an almost basis, much to the consternation of the markets. Still, the US dollar remains strong, buoyed by a strong economy and the increasing likelihood of a rate hike at the upcoming Fed policy meeting on March 15. The likelihood of a March hike as jumped to 84%, according to the CME group, compared to 33% just a week ago. Why the huge jump in odds? One reason is that Fed policymakers have sent out strong hints that the Fed is leaning towards raising rates next week. Earlier in the year, the Fed sent out signals Fed sent out signals that it would stay on the sidelines until it had a clearer picture of Trump’s economic agenda, such as an outline of tax reform or fiscal spending plans. That has changed, as the Fed appears poised to move ahead despite the lack of any details about the administration’s economic policy. This week’s job numbers will be critically important, as strong numbers will likely boost the odds of a March move as well as push the greenback to higher levels.