Overall: The overnight markets were very slow. Both the European and the Asian sessions lacked any momentum, even though the calendar held some top tier releases. Stocks opened lower in N.Y. and spent most of the day traded within a narrow band in negative territory. Fed Chairman Bernanke testified before lawmakers in the House and stressed again that the government is not looking for full-scale nationalizations.
The Chairman is doing the best he can to hold stocks up; Mr. Obama's speech last night fell flatter than a concrete balloon and as far as Mr. Geithner is concerned, he's giving Claude Raines (who played the invisible man in the movies) a very strong run for his money.
In U.S. economic news, existing-home sales tumbled 5.3% in January as home prices continued to decline. Home resale’s fell to a 4.49 million annual rate from January's 4.74 million annual pace as the median price fell 14.8% to $170,300 from $199,800 in January. It was the lowest rate of recorded sales since July 1997. The median price has declined to levels last seen in March 2003.
The Euro (Eur/Usd) traded without a clear direction in the overnight market. The pair tested the 20-day simple moving average and the neutral pivot point (1.2805) in the Asian session, but moved higher during the European session. The euro fell about 50 pips after the housing number came out, but spent the rest of the day in a narrow range as stocks treaded water for most of the day.
The German economy contracted in the fourth quarter by 2.1%, as expected. The released number represents the biggest quarterly drop since the German unification. Compared with Q4 2007 the German economy contracted by 1.7%.
The Pound (Gbp/Usd) rose 80 pips in the Asian and European trading hours. The pair continues to trade between the 20 and the 50-day simple moving averages, even though it acted as though it wanted to break to the upside. The pair fell below a daily trend line of support extending from Jan. 23, but found support later as stocks tried to limit their losses.
In the fourth quarter, the U.K. economy contracted by 1.5%, unrevised from the preliminary release. In the third quarter, the U.K. economy posted a -0.7% read. The two consecutive quarters indicate the U.K. economy has officially entered into a recession, similar to the Euro-zone and U.S. economies. From the fourth quarter of 2007, the U.K. GDP contracted by 1.9% in Q4 2008.
The Aussie (Aud/Usd) traded in a relatively small range overnight on weak momentum. The pair seemed to establish a support base on 0.6450 before making a bit of a comeback as stocks tried to limit their losses.
The release of the Australian wage price index showed that it rose 1.2 percent this quarter. This is above analysts’ expectations for a 0.9 percent increase. The trend estimate for construction work completed rose 2.6 percent in December of 2008 while the seasonally adjusted estimate came in at 1.7 percent. This comes after a strong revision higher of the September quarter, from 4.4 percent to 5.5 percent.
The Cad (Usd/Cad) bounced off the 20-day simple moving average in the Asian session, rising 40 pips. The cad traded near the neutral pivot point (1.2450), even though it broke above during the Asian trading hours. Today was the first time in the last six days the cad moved higher. The cad fell in N.Y. as crude gained nearly $3 off the inventory report (which showed demand for gasoline was increasing), finding support in the 1.2515 area.
The Swissy (Usd/Chf) tried to move higher during the late Asian session, but reversed and broke lower shortly after the London open. Tonight, the swissy has traded between the 20 and the 100 day simple moving averages, which has acted as a swing point for the last few days. The pair spent most of the day rising in N.Y., finding resistance at the 1.1742 handle before falling back to 1.1700.
The Yen (Usd/Yen) went up. It goes up if stocks go up, it goes up if stocks go down, and it goes up if stocks go sideways. In other words, it doesn't go down.
The trade balance in Japan has plummeted by 45.7 percent from one year earlier. This is after a 35 percent fall seen the previous month and is the sharpest decline seen since 1980. The gross domestic product in Japan has shrunk by an annual 12.7 percent pace in the last quarter.