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I. Market focus:
At the beginning of Thursday’s session, the U.S. dollar stood near the highs of the previous day, as it continued to receive support from the growth of the U.S. Treasury yields. The benchmark 10-year yield remained above the psychological mark of 3 percent, which was pierced the day before. But the negative perception of this fact by market participants has weakened to the present moment on hopes that trade disputes between China and the United States will be resolved, as well as signs of progress in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The focus is on the meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB), the outcomes of which will be announced at 11:45 GMT. The press conference of the regulator’s governor will begin at 12:30 GMT. The ECB is not expected to make any changes to the parameters of its monetary policy at its April meeting, leaving interest rates unchanged. The main issue for market participants remains the timing of the completion of the asset purchase program and the beginning of monetary policy tightening. At its previous meeting, the regulator removed the thesis about the readiness to increase the volume of the quantitative easing (QE) program, if needed, but confirmed that the asset purchase program would run until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary. Recent macroeconomic data indicated a slowdown in economic activity in the Eurozone, and this fact should be reflected in the tone of the ECB's accompanying statement and comments of its president Mario Draghi. Although it is not expected that the Bank will change its rhetoric significantly, it can try to instill confidence in markets that the weakening of macroeconomic indicators is temporary. Overall, the outcomes of the ECB’s April meeting may be positive for the euro rather than negative.
The stock market participants assess the quarterly results of companies, as the first-quarter earnings season continues. AT&T (T), Facebook (FB), Ford Motor (F) and Visa (V) released their Q1 financials after the close of yesterday’s trading. Altria (MO), General Motors (GM) and Int'l Paper (IP) are set to report before the market opens.
II. The market highlights are:
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed on Wednesday that crude inventories rose by 2.17 million barrels to 429.737 million barrels in the week ended April 20. Economists had forecast a decrease of 2.043 million barrels. At the same time, gasoline stocks increased by 840,000 barrels to 236 million barrels, while analysts had expected a decrease of 600,000 barrels. Distillate stocks fell by 2.6 million barrels to 122.7 million barrels last week, while analysts had forecast a decline of 900,000 barrels. Meanwhile, oil production in the U.S. increased to 10.586 million barrels per day from 10.540 million barrels per day in the previous week. U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 8.5 million barrels per day last week, up by 539,000 barrels per day from the previous week.
Global rating agency Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday reaffirmed the United States' “Aaa” credit rating, citing “exceptional” economic strength” of the country, a very high strength of its institution, and very low exposure to credit related-shocks. And that “counterbalance” the lower fiscal strength. In its statement, Moody’s also noted that “the diversity, dynamism, and competitiveness of the U.S. economy, along with the U.S. dollar’s status as the pre-eminent international reserve currency and very large size and depth of the U.S. Treasury market, offset rising fiscal pressures stemming from ageing-related entitlement spending, higher debt service payments, and recent policy actions that will likely reduce future revenues and increase expenditures”.
The Conference Board reported its Leading Economic Index (LEI) for China increased 1.7 percent in March to 128.0 (2016=100), while its Coincident Economic Index (CEI) for China fell 0.8 percent to 111.5 (20160=100).
The report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed on Thursday that import prices in Australia surged by 2.1 percent q-o-q in the first quarter of 2018, following an unrevised 2.0 percent rise in the prior quarter, while economists estimated a 1.3 percent gain. According to the ABS’ report, the rise was driven by higher prices paid for petroleum, petroleum products and related materials (+8.7 percent q-o-q), road vehicles (+1.5 percent q-o-q), inorganic chemicals (+19.7 percent q-o-q) and plastics in primary forms (+14.7 percent q-o-q). These gains were partly offset by falls in medicinal and pharmaceutical products (-4.1 percent q-o-q). Through the year to the March quarter, the import prices rose 2.3 percent, boosted by higher prices paid for petroleum, petroleum products and related materials (+15.9 percent). Meanwhile, export prices jumped by 4.9 percent q-o-q in the first quarter of 2018, compared to an unrevised 2.8 percent q-o-q increase in the prior quarter and economists' forecast for an increase of 4.1 percent q-o-q. The advance was driven by prices received for many of Australia's mining commodities, including metalliferous ores and metal scrap prices (+6.1 percent q-o-q), coal, coke and briquettes (6.5 percent q-o-q), gas, natural and manufactured (13.8 percent q-o-q), petroleum, petroleum products and related materials 9.6 percent q-o-q), non-ferrous metals (+4.8 percent q-o-q), as well as live animal export prices (+22.2 percent q-o-q). Offsetting these price gains were rises in falls in sugar, sugar preparations and honey (-8.6 percent q-o-q) and power generating machinery and equipment (-2.9 percent q-o-q). Through the year to the March quarter, the export prices declined 1.4 percent, driven by metalliferous ores and metal scrap (-10.9 percent) and sugar, sugar preparations and honey (-35.2 percent).
III. Market Situation
The currency pair EUR/USD traded slightly higher, remaining near the seven-week low, as investors were cautious ahead of the announcement of the outcomes the European Central Bank’s (ECB) meeting. It is widely expected that the European regulator will leave its interest rates unchanged. Particular attention will be paid to the ECB Draghi's comments on the weaker-than-expected Eurozone’s economic indicators. Overall, most market participants believe that the ECB will soften its tone. If the ECB rhetoric is less dovish than expected, the exchange rate of the single currency will receive support. Resistance level - $1.2289 (low of April 23). Support level - $1.2100 (psychological level).
The currency pair GBP/USD traded marginally higher, correcting after yesterday's decline. With an almost empty economic calendar in the UK ahead, market participants will focus on the dynamics of the U.S. currency and the general market sentiment toward risky assets. Tomorrow, the focus will be on the preliminary data on the UK’s GDP growth in the first quarter of 2018. Experts note that the acceleration of the growth rate can strengthen analysts' expectations of an increase in interest rates at the Bank of England’s (BoE) meeting on May 10. According to economists’ forecasts, in the GDP grew by 1.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018, the same pace as in the fourth quarter of 2017. In q-o-q terms, the GDP is expected to record a 0.3 percent expansion for the first quarter after an increase of 0.4 percent in the prior quarter. Resistance level - $1.4246 (high of April 18). Support level - $1.3888 (low of March 16).
The currency pair AUD/USD rose slightly, recovering some of the losses of the previous day, helped by the downward correction of the U.S. dollar, and upbeat data from Australia as well. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that import prices in Australia surged by 2.1 percent q-o-q in the first quarter of 2018, following an unrevised 2.0 percent rise in the prior quarter, while economists estimated a 1.3 percent gain. Through the year to the March quarter, the import prices rose 2.3 percent. Meanwhile, export prices jumped by 4.9 percent q-o-q in the first quarter of 2018, compared to an unrevised 2.8 percent q-o-q increase in the prior quarter and economists' forecast for an increase of 4.1 percent q-o-q. Through the year to the March quarter, the export prices declined 1.4 percent. Resistance level - AUD0.7682 (high of April 23). Support level - AUD0.7519 (low of December 12, 2017).
The currency pair USD/JPY consolidated near the opening level, due to the lack of new drivers. In addition, investors took a breather after a strong rally in the pair since April 17. The yen’s growth was limited by the continued increase in the U.S. Treasury yields. Many analysts believe that the yields have recently risen in part because of higher oil prices, which put upward pressure on inflation expectations. The focus of markets gradually shifts to the meeting of the Bank of Japan (BoJ), the outcomes of which will be announced on Friday. It is expected that the central bank will not make any changes to the policy stance, but the tone of the accompanying statement is likely to be somewhat softened. Resistance level - Y109.79 (high of February 8). Support level - Y108.53 (low of April 24).
U.S. stock indexes closed mixed on Wednesday, as optimism over a raft of upbeat company earnings was offset by concerns over rising U.S. bond yields and corporate costs.
Asian stock indexes closed mostly lower on Thursday, following a mixed day on Wall Street. The continued growth in the U.S. Treasury yields weighed on investor sentiment. Meanwhile, the Japanese equity benchmark, the Nikkei, rose, supported by upbeat company earnings/guidance and the yen’s weakness against the dollar.
European stock indexes are expected to trade lower in the morning trading session.
Yields of US 10-year notes hold at 3.03% (0 basis points)
Yields of German 10-year bonds hold at 0.64% (0 basis points)
Yields of UK 10-year gilts hold at 1.54% (0 basis points)
Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures traded higher. Crude oil for delivery in June settled at $68.33 (+0.41%). The crude oil prices rose moderately, as the U.S. dollar retreated. Meanwhile, investors almost ignored yesterday's data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which showed that crude inventories rose by 2.17 million barrels to 429.737 million barrels in the week ended April 20. Economists had forecast a decrease of 2.043 million barrels. At the same time, gasoline stocks increased by 840,000 barrels to 236 million barrels, while analysts had expected a decrease of 600,000 barrels. Distillate stocks fell by 2.6 million barrels to 122.7 million barrels last week, while analysts had forecast a decline of 900,000 barrels. Meanwhile, oil production in the U.S. increased to 10.586 million barrels per day from 10.540 million barrels per day in the previous week. U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 8.5 million barrels per day last week, up by 539,000 barrels per day from the previous week.
Gold traded at $1,324.00 (+0.09%). Gold prices edged up, due to the partial profit-taking after yesterday's decline, and the negative dynamics of the U.S. currency. The index, measuring the value of the U.S. dollar relative to a basket of six major currencies, fell by 0.04 percent to 91.14. Since gold prices are tied to the dollar, a weaker dollar makes the precious metal cheaper for holders of foreign currencies.
IV. The most important scheduled events (time GMT 0)
BBA Mortgage Approvals
CBI retail sales volume balance
ECB Interest Rate Decision
ECB Press Conference
Continuing Jobless Claims
Goods Trade Balance
Initial Jobless Claims
Durable Goods Orders
Durable Goods Orders ex Transportation
Durable goods orders ex defense
Gfk Consumer Confidence
Tokyo Consumer Price Index
|remaining time till the new event being published|
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