European markets kick off in positive form overnight in anticipation of the European Central Bank interest rate decision which saw rates remain at the expected 1 per cent. In a speech the ECB Governor Jean Claude Trichet affirmed the banks current stance on interest rates, indicating they are at appropriate levels for the near term, however signalled the start of the unwinding of economic stimulus. Governor Tichet's comments were initially received positively for the Euro which rose to highs of US$1.5142 in the first five minutes, but quickly lost momentum with the ensuing minutes seeing a fall of over 50 pips as the topic of greenback weakness was raised. Recent times have seen Jean Claude Trichet become a primary advocate of US Dollar strength, as the weak dollar hampers an export fuelled recovery in competing economies.
We also saw preliminary data for Euro-Zone gross domestic product came in on target recording 0.4 per cent growth in the third quarter representing an on year decline of 4.1 per cent. Euro-Zone Retail Sales was unchanged in the month of October, representing an annual decline of 1.9 per cent.
Prior to the opening bell, US markets were buoyed by the news Bank of America would return the entire US$45billion in bailout funds received from US Government. Investors took the BoA restitution as a milestone in the economic recovery process, but failed to carry the same positivity through the trading day with equity markets finishing in the red on the back of a contraction on the services sector. ISM Non-Manufacturing Index fell below expectations with the index falling to 48.7 in the month of November from Octobers' reading of 50.6. An index level of '50' or below suggests economic contractions whereas '50' or above indicates economic expansion. We did however see some positive results in the labour market with Initial Jobless claims for the week of November 28 surpassed consensus with 457,000 new applications against expectations a rise to 480,000.
The mixed bag of data saw the greenback remain well supported overnight with the US dollar index which measures the value relative to six major foreign currencies rising 0.23 per cent to 74.84. The Aussie dollar followed suit retreating from overnight highs of 93.2 US cents - At the time of writing the Aussie is buying 92.3 US cents.