European Outlook: Asian stock markets are mostly slightly higher, with Japanese markets underperforming and marginally in the red, as the Yen strengthened and GDP data missed expectations by a wide margin. U.K. and U.S. futures are also up after Comey’s written statement ahead of today’s testimony helped to underpin U.S. markets Wednesday. In Europe markets await the ECB meeting and the U.K. general election, although first results are not expected until after market close. Bund futures were initially boosted yesterday by reports that the ECB will cut its inflation forecast today, but quickly started to head south again and while Draghi and Praet may be eager to keep any changes to the forward guidance to a minimum today, this won’t change the fact that the ECB is heading for tapering next year. In the U.K. the outcome of the election will have an impact for Brexit talks and while latest polls still give PM May the lead, her majority may not be as large, as she hoped when she called the election and the outside risk of a hung parliament would hurt U.K. markets.
FX Update: Super Thursday is here and caution is in the air in forex markets. The dollar majors and most of the main cross rates have been plying narrow ranges into the London interbank open. EURUSD has settled in the mid 1.12s, up from the low seen at 1.1204 yesterday in the wake of the Bloomberg report citing officials suggesting that the ECB will lower inflation forecasts. We still anticipant that the central bank will at its meeting today neuter the easing bias. USDJPY has ebbed back to the mid 109.0s during the Asian session today after briefly taking a look above 110.00. Aside from the ECB meeting, we have the UK election (were there is an outside risk of there being a hung parliament), and the testimony of ex-FBI director Comey (where markets will be alert for any devil in the detail following the unexpected publication of the written testimony yesterday, which didn’t really tell us anything new). We recommend fading any gains in USDJPY.
German April industrial production rose 0.8% m/m, more than expected and with March revised up to -0.1% m/m from -0.4% m/m reported initially. Production was mainly boosted by energy, which rebounded 5.7% m/m, after a slump of -4.3% in March, as a late spell of cold weather hit the country in April. Similarly, to orders data yesterday, the annual rate actually improved marginally and now stands at 2.8% y/y, up from 2.2% y/y in the previous month. Manufacturing was up 0.4% m/m and 2.1% y/y and together with robust survey numbers the data still sees the recovery intact and Germany heading for solid growth in Q2.
Main Macro Events Today
- UK Elections – UK Elections are due today, although first results are not expected until after market close.The outcome of the election will have an impact for Brexit talks and while latest polls still give PM May the lead, her majority may not be as large, as she hoped when she called the election and the outside risk of a hung parliament would hurt U.K. markets.
- ECB Preview – The ECB is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged and confirm the QE schedule for the rest of the year. The key question is if and how far the ECB will tweak its forward guidance and whether the easing bias will finally be scrapped. Leaked ECB reports yesterday confirmed what it is expected, that the updated set of forecasts tomorrow, will bring downward revisions to the inflation forecast, which means Draghi and Praet will have good arguments when they urge for caution to changes in the central bank’s communication and forward guidance.
- EU GDP – The final Q1 GDP data for the Eurozone is likely to stay unchanged at 0.5%
- US Jobless Claims – Initial claims data should decline to 240k from 248k last week and 235k in the week prior.
- Canadian Housing Stats & Gov. Poloz Speech – May housing starts are expected to moderate to a 200.0k pace from 213.1k in April, as activity further unwinds from the lofty 252.3k rate in March. The April new home price index is also due today, while BOC Governor Poloz is due to speak today, in Ottawa.
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