The US dollar strengthened against the euro and yen but weakened against a basket of currencies. Data released by ADP this morning showed the private sector cut 697,000 jobs in February, which suggests continued deterioration of the US labor markets. Furthermore, data from the Institute for Supply Management showed non-manufacturing index came in at 41.6 in February versus 42.9 in January, indicating a contraction in the service sector. A level of 50 separates expansion from contraction.
In other news, oil rose towards $43 per barrel supported by better economic news from China and speculation that OPEC may further cut output. A senior Chinese planning official indicated the Chinese government will increase spending in areas such as infrastructure and manufacturing on top of the 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package that was unveiled in November.
The euro weakened against the dollar overnight, but was able to recoup some of those losses in early morning trading. The euro initially weakened against the dollar when Australiaâ€™s economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, spooking investors to move away from the euro and into the relatively safe dollar. On the data front, Markit Eurozone Purchasing Managerâ€™s Index for the service sector fell to new record lows of 39.2 in February which is well below the 50.0 mark that divides growth from contraction.
Markets are awaiting tomorrowâ€™s ECB and BoE meetings for additional direction.
The British pound strengthened against the dollar after better than expected data, but those gains were capped ahead of Bank of Englandâ€™s meeting tomorrow. The purchasing managersâ€™ index for the UK services sector unexpectedly rose to 43.2 in February indicating a pick-up in UK consumer confidence.
The Japanese yen weakened against the dollar as investors, worried over Japanâ€™s struggling economy, sold yen. Bank of Japanâ€™s board member Miyako Suda presented a gloomy outlook on Japanâ€™s economy and said the central bank must act flexibly if downside risks materialize.
The Canadian dollar strengthened against the US dollar as oil climbed towards $43 a barrel. As commodity prices rise, the loonie, which is heavily commodity based, strengthens against the greenback.
The Australian dollar and New Zealand dollar weakened against the US dollar overnight after data showed the Australian economy shrank 0.5 percent last quarter for the first time in eight years. The unexpected contraction in the economy puts pressure on the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut rates at its April 7th meeting. However, both the Aussie and the kiwi erased some of their losses as the US private sector data and non-manufacturing data was released this morning.
10-Year Treasury Note Yield: 2.995%
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 6,768.79 + 42.77