Global markets kicked off on a low note overnight with Euro-Zone Retail Sales failing to meet expectations to record a contraction of 0.6 percent in February against a previous 0.2 percent. This represents an annual contraction of 1.1 percent. Economists had expected sales to remain unchanged or 0.4 percent contraction annually. German industrial production also provided a less than convincing view Europe’s largest economy is on the straight and narrow – recording no change in February against expected growth of 0.8 percent.
Overnight the European Central Bank left the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 1 per cent. Reassuring words from ECB President Jean Claude Trichet helped investor’s overlook the previous economic data with the Euro paring losses against dollar, rising to highs of 13366. In a speech Trichet reassured the investing public “a default in not an issue for Greece” and also threw his support behind the Austerity measures Greece is taking to rein in the budget deficit. At the time of writing the Euro has achieved new intra-day highs of US$1.3380.
Across the channel the Bank of England kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent overnight for the thirteenth consecutive month. The Central bank also confirmed no extension to the 200 billion pound quantitative easing program.
Over to the States and some positive sales reports in March kept investor’s optimism high – translating to some risk appetite boosting key commodities. We also saw some positivity derived from the weekly jobs data which saw Continuing claims for unemployment benefits fall to 4,550,000 from 4,681,000 the previous week. However, new claims rose to 460,000 last week from a revised 442,000 the previous week.
In-turn Aussie dollar remain well supported overnight following on from a reasonably strong day in domestic trade yesterday, which saw positive unemployment data keep the local unit buoyant. The Australian economy created 19,600 jobs in March against a previous 400 new jobs. At the time of writing the Aussie dollar is buying 92.9 US cents – in the absence of market moving data we can expect price activity to be governed by equity market movements.