European Outlook: Asian stock markets were mixed, with Nikkei and ASX underperforming and heading south as the Dollar weakened ahead of Yellen’s testimony today. FTSE 100 futures are moving higher U.S. stock futures are mixed as markets remain in the ban of central bank comments. Yields rose again across Europe and with central banks eying exit trend occasional dovish comments are unlikely to provide more than a brief halt in the uptrends in yields. Today’s data calendar has U.K. labor market data as well as Eurozone May production numbers. Germany auctions a new 10-year Bund.
US reports: revealed U.S. NFIB small business optimism index fell to 103.6 in June from 104.5 in May. It’s the lowest since the 98.4 in November. The index was as high as 105.9 in January, which was the best since the 106.1 print from December 2004. The all-time high is 107.4 from November 2004. The percentage of firms reporting plans to hire fell to 15% from 18%. On the other hand, U.S. JOLTS report showed job openings slumped 301k in May to 5,666k after rising 182k to 5,967k in April. The rate slid to 3.7% from 3.9%. But, hirings increased 429k to 5,472k, rebounding from the 261k drop to 5,043k. The rate improved to 3.7% from 3.5%. And quitters increased 177k to 3,221k after falling 94k to 3,044k. The rate inched up to 2.2% from 2.1%. The headline figure is disappointing, but the quit numbers, a Yellen favorite, should offset. Lastly, the U.S. wholesale report revealed a disappointing 0.5% May wholesale sales drop after a 0.3% (was 0.4%) April decline, though we saw a 0.4% May inventory rise that beat the 0.3% climb in the advance indicators report after a 0.4% April drop. The May sales drop mostly reflected a 7.8% price-led petroleum plunge, though weakness was evident across the durables data as well.
BoE MPC member Broadbent kept mum on interest rates during a speech he delivered before the Scottish Council for Development and Industry earlier. Broadbent was among the majority of MPC members to vote for unchanged policy at the June meeting, which had been a surprise for markets as three of his colleagues voted for a 25 bp hike in the repo rate. He spoke mostly about his view on Brexit risks, concluding that “put simply, a significant curtailment of trade with Europe would force the UK to shift away from producing the things it’s been relatively good at, and therefore tends to export to the EU, and towards the things that it currently imports and is relatively less good at.” Broadbent argued that this, at least initially, would both lower income as trade shifts away from services exports, which the UK has a comparative advantage in, while raising costs as production shifted more towards food and machinery, areas where the UK has a comparative disadvantage. Sterling took a 15-20 pip tumble versus the G3 currencies, with markets appearing to take Broadbent’s words as meaning that he won’t vote for a tightening at the next MPC meeting on August 3.
Fed Governor Brainard: it’s “appropriate soon” to start balance sheet shrinkage, she said in her speech on Cross-Border Spillovers of Balance Sheet Normalization. That’s consistent with the messages from the June policy state, the minutes, and the SEP, though it’s important that the dovish governor echoed that sentiment. The Fed will continue to assess inflation, especially in light of the recent softening, before deciding on the rate path. Policymakers want to move cautiously on further rate increases. She also noted that the currency markets could be more sensitive to the Fed’s rate actions than on the balance sheet.
Main Macro Events Today
- UK Labor Data -The U.K. labour market report for May is expected to show the unemployment rate holding steady at the cycle low of 4.6%. A key focus for policymakers and the markets alike, will be average household earnings, as any fresh signs of weakness will provide an offset to the hawkish stance of the BoE.
- Fed Yellen – Yellen’s testimony today before the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee (Thursday) will highlight .Her comments will be scrutinized for any sign that the timing could be accelerated, with an announcement on the portfolio at the upcoming July FOMC, with the start of the shrinkage in September. Or given the weaker trend in inflation, we will listen to hear any indication the slowdown in inflation is giving her cold feet on further normalization, pushing off action on the balance sheet and rate hikes further into year end, or even 2018.
- BOC Statement – The Bank of Canada’s policy announcement, Monetary Policy Report and press conference comprise the main event today. A hawkish U-turn by the Bank via several recent appearances and interviews by Governor Poloz and Senior Deputy Governor Wilkins have left a widespread expectation that the Bank will increase rates by 25 basis points to 0.75%.
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