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I. Market focus:
At the beginning of the final session of the week, the focus of market participants was on the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) quarterly business sentiment survey, known as the Tankan. This survey of the Japanese regulator indicated an improvement in the confidence among the big Japanese manufacturers for the fifth straight quarter in the three months through December. The corresponding index hit an 11-year high. Although the data turned out to be quite strong, exceeding economists’ forecasts, the report also contained negative signals. In particular, respondents expressed expectations of worsening business conditions in the next three months, reflecting the reluctance of large manufacturers and non-manufacturers to increase labor costs. Encouraging large companies with significant cash resources to spend their money on wages is the priority tool of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the fight against deflation. For these purposes, the ruling coalition approved a plan to reduce the corporate tax rate, but only for companies that increase their spending. This move of the government is expected to have a negative impact on the sentiment in the business circles of Japan in the coming months.
Friday’s session will not be very busy with publications of macroeconomic data and other important events. The most noticeable report will be the U.S. data on industrial production, which will be released at (4:15 GMT.
II. The market highlights are:
Statistics Canada reported Thursday the New Housing Price Index (NHPI) rose 0.1 percent m-o-m in October, following a 0.2 percent m-o-m advance in September. Economists forecast a 0.2 percent m-o-m increase. According to the report, new house prices were unchanged in 15 of 27 census metropolitan areas surveyed. At the same time, the main positive contributors to the index performance were higher prices in Ottawa (+1.0 percent m-o-m), due to improved market conditions and new phases of development; Vancouver (+0.3 percent m-o-m) and Toronto (+0.1 percent m-o-m). In y-o-y terms, NHPI surged 3.5 percent in October, down from 3.8 percent recorded in September.
The Commerce Department announced Thursday that sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.8 percent m-o-m in November after a revised 0.5 percent m-o-m gain in October (originally a 0.2 percent advance). Economists had expected total sales would gain 0.3 percent m-o-m in November. The acceleration of the growth pace of the retail sales reflected a broad strengthening of consumer demand as the holiday shopping season got underway. The report showed significant increases in sales by gas stations, non-store retailers and electronic and appliance stores. On the contrary, sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers decreased by 0.2 percent m-o-m. Excluding auto, retail sales surged up by 1.0 percent m-o-m in November after increasing by 0.4 percent m-o-m in October (revised from originally reported 0.1 percent uptick). Closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, and are used in GDP calculations, increased by 0.8 percent m-o-m in November after rising by 0.3 percent m-o-m in October. In y-o-y terms, the U.S. retail sales rose 5.8 percent in November, accelerating growth pace from October’s revised increase of 4.6 percent (originally a 4.4 percent surge).
The data from the Labor Department revealed Thursday the number of applications for unemployment benefits decreased last week for the fourth straight week, pointing to a further tightening in the labor market. According to the report, the initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 225,000 for the week ended December 9. Economists had expected 239,000 new claims last week. Claims for the prior week were unrevised at 236,000. Meanwhile, the four-week moving average of claims fell by 6,750 to 234,750 last week. It was the 145th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, the longest streak since 1970.
Preliminary data released by IHS Markit on Thursday pointed to divergent trends across the U.S. private sector economy in December, with a slowdown in services growth more than offsetting a robust and accelerated upturn in manufacturing output. According to the report, the Markit flash manufacturing purchasing manager's index (PMI) rose to 55.0 this month from 53.9 in November, signaling the strongest upturn in operating conditions since January. Economists had expected the reading to come in at 54.0. A reading above 50 signals an expansion in activity, while a reading below this level signals a contraction. Production, new orders and employment recorded sharper increases. At the same time, the Markit flash services purchasing manager's index (PMI) came in at 52.4 this month, down from 54.5 in November, signaling the slowest upturn in service sector activity since September 2016. Economists had expected the reading to increase to 55.0. Subdued business activity growth reflected a further loss of momentum for new order intakes. The latest increase in incoming new business was the least marked since April. Job creation eased to a seven-month low in December. Overall, IHS Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index came in at 53.0 in December, down from 54.5 in November. The reading pointed to the weakest expansion of private sector business activity since March.
The latest Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) survey showed Friday that activity in New Zealand's manufacturing sector continued to expand in November at a faster pace than in October. The BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) came in at 57.7 last month compared to an unrevised October’s reading of 57.2. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in economic activity, whereas a reading below that level represents contraction. Overall, the index has remained in expansion in all months since October 2012. In November, the 0.4-point m-o-m increase in the BusinessNZ PMI was attributable to gains in sub-indexes of production (+1.2 points to 62.1), employment (+2.6 points to 54.2), finished stocks (+1.9 points to 57.5) and deliveries (+0.8 points to 58.9). BusinessNZ’s executive director for manufacturing Catherine Beard said that the sector is heading towards a stronger second half of the year. Meanwhile, BusinessNZ’s Senior Economist, Doug Steel, noted that "recent surveys have seen business confidence falter during and after the government formation process. In contrast, the PMI, which is a survey of business outcomes rather than sentiment has remained rock solid over recent months".
The Bank of Japan's (BoJ) business sentiment survey, known as the Tankan, revealed Friday the big Japanese manufacturers' sentiment improved over the fourth quarter of 2017. According to the survey, the headline index for large manufacturers' sentiment rose to plus 25 in this quarter from the previous quarter's reading of plus 22 and exceeded economists’ forecast for plus 24. That was the fifth straight quarterly improvement and the highest reading since December 2006. Meanwhile, sentiment in the non-manufacturing sector remained unchanged at 23 in the December quarter, in-line with economists’ forecast. The survey also showed that both big manufacturers and non-manufacturers forecast business conditions to deteriorate in the next three months. The outlook index among manufacturers came in at 19 and that in non-manufacturing at 20.
III. Market Situation
The currency pair EUR/USD rose slightly, due to a partial profit-taking by investors after the pair’s sharp decline the day before in response to the publication of upbeat data on the U.S. labor market and retail sales, which pointed to continued economic growth amid tightening monetary policy by the U.S. Federal Reserve. A certain pressure on the pair was also put by the outcomes of the ECB meeting. Recall, the ECB left its monetary policy unchanged, as widely expected. The regulator’s Governing Council stated it expected “the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases.” Meanwhile, the ECB president Mario Draghi said during the press conference that the ECB improved forecasts for inflation and growth, but added that “if the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, we stand ready to increase the APP in terms of size and/or duration.” Today, the focus will be on the Eurozone’s data on trade balance and the U.S. statistics on industrial production. Resistance level - $1.1876 (high of December 5). Support level - $1.1711 (low of November 21).
The currency pair GBP/USD consolidated near the opening level, due to the lack of new drivers. Investors also continued to assess the outcomes of the Bank of England’s (BoE) latest meeting, at which the members of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted 9-0 to keep the BoE monetary policy unchanged, leaving the U.K. interest rate at 0.5 percent. The move was widely expected by the markets. The MPC said it expected moderate GDP growth over the next few years, but warned that GDP growth in Q4 might be slightly softer than in Q3. The MPC also judged that inflation was likely to be close to its peak, and would decline towards the 2 percent target in the medium term. According to the MPC, “developments regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union – and in particular the reaction of households, businesses and asset prices to them – remain the most significant influence on, and source of uncertainty about, the economic outlook.” With an almost empty economic calendar in the UK ahead, investors will focus on the dynamics of the U.S. currency and the general market sentiment toward risky assets. In addition, some attention will be paid the speech of the BoE’s MPC member Andy Haldane at 13:15 GMT. Resistance level - $1.3520 (high of December 8). Support level - $1.3304 (low of December 12).
The currency pair AUD/USD traded moderately higher, near yesterday's peak. The pair was supported by rising commodities prices. In addition, traders digested the comments by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) board member Ian Harper, who said that although companies in some industries report difficulties in finding qualified workers, there are no general factors that would contribute to the growth of wages. He also added that the interest rates need to stay supportive of the economy. Resistance level - AUD0.7699 (high of October 7). Support level - AUD0.7501 (low of December 8).
The currency pair USD/JPY traded slightly lower. Demand for the yen rose after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) published its quarterly business sentiment survey, known as the Tankan, which indicated an improvement in the confidence among the big Japanese manufacturers for the fifth straight quarter in the three months through December. According to the survey, the headline index for large manufacturers' sentiment rose to plus 25 in this quarter from the previous quarter's reading of plus 22 and exceeded economists’ forecast for plus 24. That was the fifth straight quarterly improvement and the highest reading since December 2006. Meanwhile, sentiment in the non-manufacturing sector remained unchanged at 23 in the December quarter, in-line with economists’ forecast. The survey also showed that both big manufacturers and non-manufacturers forecast business conditions to deteriorate in the next three months. The outlook index among manufacturers came in at 19 and that in non-manufacturing at 20. Resistance level - Y113.90 (high of November 14). Support level - Y110.83 (low of November 27).
U.S. stock indexes closed lower on Thursday, retreating from their record highs, due to partial profit-taking by investors and amid concerns over tax reform. The focus also was on the upbeat data on the U.S. labor market and retail sales. The Commerce Department announced that sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.8 percent m-o-m in November after a revised 0.5 percent m-o-m gain in October (originally a 0.2 percent advance). Economists had expected total sales would gain 0.3 percent m-o-m in November. The acceleration of the growth pace of the retail sales reflected a broad strengthening of consumer demand as the holiday shopping season got underway. In y-o-y terms, the U.S. retail sales rose 5.8 percent in November, accelerating growth pace from October’s revised increase of 4.6 percent (originally a 4.4 percent surge). The data from the Labor Department revealed the number of applications for unemployment benefits decreased last week for the fourth straight week, pointing to a further tightening in the labor market. According to the report, the initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 225,000 for the week ended December 9. Economists had expected 239,000 new claims last week. It was the 145th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, the longest streak since 1970.
Asian stock indexes closed lower on Friday, tracking overnight weakness on Wall Street on concerns over the U.S. tax-overhaul plan. The Japanese equity benchmark, the Nikkei, fell, as a firmer yen put pressure on the Japanese large export-oriented companies.
European stock indexes are expected to trade lower in the morning trading session.
Yields of US 10-year notes hold at 2.36% (+1 basis points)
Yields of German 10-year bonds hold at 0.31% (0 basis points)
Yields of UK 10-year gilts hold at 1.18% (0 basis points)
Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures traded higher. Crude oil for delivery in January settled at $57.20 (+0.28%). The crude oil prices rose slightly, supported by the Forties pipeline outage in the North Sea. In addition, the focus remained on the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which revealed that OPEC states reduced oil production by 130,000 barrels a day compared with October to 32.36 million barrels in November, fulfilling the oil production cut agreement by 115 percent. Market participants await weekly data on the U.S. oil rig count from Baker Hughes.
Gold traded at $1254.90 (+0.17%). Gold prices rose slightly, helped by increased demand for safe-haven assets amid concerns about the Republican tax overhaul package in the U.S. However, further growth of gold prices was limited by the dynamics of the U.S. currency. The index, measuring the value of the U.S. dollar relative to a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.07 percent to 93.55. Since gold prices are tied to the dollar, a stronger dollar makes the precious metal more expensive for holders of foreign currencies.
IV. The most important news that are expected (time GMT0)
Trade balance unadjusted
BOE Quarterly Bulletin
MPC Member Andy Haldane Speaks
NY Fed Empire State manufacturing index
Baker Hughes Oil Rig Count
Net Long-term TIC Flows
Total Net TIC Flows
|remaining time till the new event being published|
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