European Outlook: Asian stock markets moved mostly higher with Japanese markets underperforming as the Dollar weakened in the wake of yesterday’s Fed minutes, and a strengthening Yen weighed on Nikkei and Topix. U.S. stock futures are also down, but U.K. futures are moving higher after a pretty lacklustre session in Europe yesterday. Re-inflation and stronger than expected growth numbers have been a difficult mix for markets this week, and even though the ECB has already re-affirmed its commitment to maintain QE purchases through to the end of the year, concerns that the central bank will be running into supply constraints are resurfacing. The calendar today has U.K. Services PMI, Swiss CPI and Eurozone PPI.
FOMC Minutes: FOMC minutes showed a gradual approach was appropriate for now. But upside risks were weighed. About half of the Committee included fiscal policy in their forecasts, although “many” stressed the “considerable uncertainty” over the timing, size, and composition of any fiscal stimulus, not to mention the mix of tax, spending, and regulatory changes. “Many” judged a faster pace of hikes might be necessary. As to downside risks, it was noted that trade barriers, dollar appreciation, and weaker than expected fiscal policy measures could limit growth. The minutes reflected more of an uncertain tone than an overly hawkish one.
Overnight Data: China December Caixin Services PMI: 53.4 (prior 53.1) & Composite 53.5 (priors 52.9) services PIM at 17 month high and the composite is at near 4 year highs. Both manufacturers and services providers see steeper increases in activity, Overall employment declines slightly, due to ongoing job shedding across the manufacturing sector, Input price inflation remains sharp, but companies raise their selling prices at softer pace. AUDUSD ticked up on the news and continued selling pressure on USD at 14 day highs at 07320.
US Data Yesterday: U.S. vehicle sales are topping expectations in December thanks to a combination of deep incentives and heavy demand for trucks, likely putting overall sales on pace to post record gains in 2016. This equates with a pace of 18.2 mln units (SA), matching the highest level in 7-years. Among the larger gains were by GM at 10% vs 4.4% forecast; Nissan 9.7% vs -2.8% expected and VW at 20.3% vs 5.6%. Fiat Chrysler was the worst performer at -10.0%, but even they beat -14.0% estimated. Analysts had been forecasting a pace of 17.4-17.5 mln units, near last year’s record 17.5 mln. Though consumer confidence is on the rise heading into 2017, inventories are up amid a slow new-model rollout and incentives have been as large as $4k/vehicle in December. Trucks accounted for 64% of year-end volume, pushing the average price up to a record $35,309 for a gain of 1.5% y/y. Rising loan and lease rates are also a potential speed bump.
Main Macro Events Today
- US Non-Manufacturing ISM – December service sector producer sentiment is out today and should reveal a headline decline to 56.8 from 57.2 in November. Overall, producer sentiment in December remained strong with most measures posting increases. The ISM-adjusted average of all measures looks poised to hold at 53 for a second month, up from 51 in October and 50 as recently as September and August.
- US Initial Jobless Claims – Initial claims data for the week of December 31 is also out today and should show an improved headline of 260k (median 262k) from 265k the week prior and 275k in the week before that. More broadly, claims are poised to average a still firm 262k in December, up from 252k in November and 258k in October.
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