Despite mixed economic data, crude oil price surges to 75.5 in NY morning as led by euro's rebound. Precious metals also extend strength as USD weakens. The benchmark contract for gold soars to 1117 while silver rises to 15.8.
Although the market anticipates European ministers will force deeper cuts on Greece's deficit, we remain cautious as the means to achieve the end may risk further weakness in euro. In our opinion, recovery in euro is more of a technical rebound. Rally in stock market after Barclays' result announcement also boosted sentiment.
After a meeting on Monday, the EU urged Greece to announce more deficit-control steps by March 16. However, the Union refused to disclose plans, if any, to prevent the country from going defaults. News said that Greece will have to show the EU on daily basis between now and March 16 that it's on track to reducing its budget deficits. If there are signs that the country may not be able to achieve the target -to reduce the public deficit from 12.7% of GDP to below 3% by 2012, further measures will need to be implemented.
Barclays, the second largest bank by value in the UK, reported net profits of 7.5B pounds, up from 2.66B pounds in a year ago, in the 6 months to December 31.The result was much better than market expectation of 6.72B pound. Equity markets in Europe strengthen with UK's FTSE gaining +0.5%. Germany's DAC and France's CAC 40 also edge higher.
On the macro front, data performance is rather mixed. In the Eurozone, ZEW survey on economic sentiment declined to 40.2 (consensus: 41.5) on February from 46.4 a month ago. In the UK, inflation weakened in January from remained elevated compared with the BOE's target. Headline CPI contracted -0.2% mom in January after rising +0.6% in the prior month. On annual basis, the reading rose +3.5%, a 14-month high, following an increase of +2.9% in December. While a return of VAT to 17.5% boosted general price level, we see underlying inflation is still strong. While the BOE said in its quarterly report that inflation is subject to downside risk in the medium- to long- term, we suspect actual readings will overshoot the central bank's forecast.
In the US, Empire Manufacturing Index surged to 24.9 in February, better than market expectations of 17.35, from 15.92 in January. This should further boost commodities higher as it signaled strong improvement in manufacturing sector in the US.