Overall: After the relatively strong finish on Wall Street yesterday, S&P futures opened with a gain and currencies reversed their risk-aversion tone. Futures rose modestly as traders perhaps thought that Monday's sell-off had been a bit overdone, although judging by what Mr. Geithner had to say vis a vis the banks (needing more cash) it was hard to see the justification for a more positive sentiment. After opening with a decline in the first 30 minutes of trading, stocks were able to overcome the weak U.S. data and post modest gains, and the trend accelerated after about 12:30.
In U.S. economic news, March consumer confidence remained near a record low, housing prices again declined by a record in January, and an index of business activity showed contraction in manufacturing for a sixth straight month.
The Euro (Eur/Usd) rose in overnight sessions for the first time in the last four days. Helping to support the euro early on, besides the rise in S&P futures, was the bounce seen off the 50% retrace of the March 4 rally during Monday's session which we saw reported on Bloomberg and on CNBC. However, the pair traded lower in Europe after the CPI reading increased speculation that the ECB will lower its benchmark rate another 50 basis points on Thursday and might open the door to quantitative easing.
Another negative for the euro was news that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was threatening to walk out of this week’s Group of 20 summit if his push for stricter international financial regulation flops. Sarkozy will refuse to sign any statement if he feels “the deliverables are not there,” French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told the BBC. “I think he is very determined.”
After rising in February for the first time since June 2008, the Euro-area Flash CPI continued its downward path in March. Until now, the declines in the CPI read were led by the crude oil sub-index, but the Flash estimate does not provide a detailed breakdown of the CPI’s components. The number of unemployed persons looking for a job in Germany for the month of February rose by 69K, more than what analysts had expected.
The Pound (Gbp/Usd) traded in identical fashion with the euro during the Asian session and the pair continued higher in N.Y. as about 75% of stocks in the S&P 500 gained. Also helping sterling stem a four-day decline was Britain’s biggest clothing retailer, Marks & Spencer Group, reporting fourth-quarter sales that beat analysts’ estimates.
The GfK consumer confidence for the month of March rose to -30 from a -35 reading in February. Consumer confidence in the U.K. has risen to its highest level since May of 2008 but still remains low overall. This may be partially attributed to lower interest rates for many families.
The Aussie (Aud/Usd) gained 100 pips during the Asian session, testing the 0.6900 area. However, at that area the pair encountered resistance and moved lower before gathering additional momentum. The pair rose fairly steadily in N.Y. as stocks advanced by nearly 2% to mid-day.
Private sector credit in Australia has slowed sharply, falling to 0.0 percent. This is the lowest level the index has reached since 1994 due to crumbling household wealth while consumer and businesses scale back on borrowing.
The Cad (Usd/Cad) retraced almost half of the gains made on Monday, declining 100 pips during the overnight session. Additionally, the pair traded between the 50 and the 100-day simple moving average during the overnight session. The pair was mostly higher in N.Y. even as crude gained about a dollar, with resistance being found just above Monday's high.
In Canadian economic news, Statistics Canada reported that GDP contracted by 0.7% in January, led by weakness in the auto sector. Also, the Industrial Product Price Index (IPPI) rose 0.4% last month compared with January, while the Raw Materials Price Index (RMPI) advanced 1.7 % compared with January, pushed up by rising crude oil prices.
The Swissy (Usd/Chf) fell 80 pips, after it tested the area formed by the 20 and the 100-day simple moving averages during the Asian session. This comes, after the swissy formed a doji-star yesterday, denoting market indecision. The pair rose in N.Y. as stocks found their footing in the morning, and declined thereafter as stocks were bought when traders returned from lunch.
The Swiss Consumption Indicator continued to decline in February. The indicator declined to 0.89, showing the prospects are becoming increasingly gloomy. Due to the economic downturn, unemployment is set to rise in the coming months, which will have a negative effect on consumer spending
The Yen (Usd/Yen) advanced aggressively during the Asian session, moved sideways in Europe and then advanced in N.Y. as stocks gained 2% to mid-afternoon.
Japans unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, increased to 4.4 percent in January. The loss of jobs and high unemployment rate is at the highest levels in more than 30 years. Global sales have declined at record pace which has forced corporations in the exporting industry in Japan to cut hours and workers. The Japanese manufacturing PMI came in slightly higher than the previous reading of 31.6 to an actual 33.8 in February. Meanwhile the manufacturing output rose to 25.9 from a 22.7.