US reports revealed a sharp 8-point Chicago PMI February plunge to 47.6

March 1, 2016

FX News Today

Reserve Bank of Australia held rates steady at 2.00%, as was widely expected. Policy remains, not surprisingly, data and event driven as the bank will follow new information to see if the improvement in the job market is sustainable and (repeating a key line from February) whether the “recent financial turbulence portends weaker global and domestic demand.” Notably, Stevens now says “continued low inflation would provide scope for easier policy” should that be needed to support demand. He said it “may” provide scope back in February. He was again largely constructive on domestic growth, saying that the expansion in the non-mining parts of the economy strengthened in 2015. On the exchange rate, he said it “has been adjusting to the evolving economic outlook.”

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), restarted easing operations on Monday. The bank added approximately $100 billion worth of long-term financing into the Chinese economy to mitigate the pain from increased unemployment and bankruptcies in those industries that have been suffered from overcapacity. According to a statement on PBOC website the bank was cutting the reserve requirement ratio, or the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, by 50 basis points, taking the ratio down to 17 percent for the biggest lenders.

China’s manufacturing sentiment shrunk in February, adding to ongoing concerns over the pace of slowing in China’s economy. The official manufacturing PMI fell to 49.0 in February from 49.4 in January. The Caixin manufacturing PMI declined to 48.0 in February from 48.4 in January.

Yesterday’s US reports revealed a sharp 8-point Chicago PMI February plunge to 47.6 alongside a 3-point uptick in the Dallas Fed index to -31.8 from a -34.6 expansion-low. We also saw a 2.5% January drop in the pending home sales index to a lean 1.4% y/y rise, which reinforces the view that housing sector growth is moderating despite a winter weather-lift. Yesterday’s figures counter Friday’s more encouraging reports that documented resilience in the US economy to the global growth pull-back.

Main Macro Events Today

EMU Unemployment Rate: So far the slowdown in confidence indicators hasn’t reached the labour market and jobless numbers continue to come down. We are looking for a further decline in the German sa number of 10K (median same) in February, which would leave the jobless rate unchanged at 6.2%. Eurozone January unemployment meanwhile is seen steady at 10.4%, with headline rates coming off highs, but disparities across countries remaining large and youth unemployment still much too high. With confidence indicators heading south and global headwinds getting stronger, it seems only a matter of time until the labour market starts to feel the chill.

Canada GDP: The Q4 and December GDP reports are due today. These two releases are the key reports in a busy week. December GDP is expected to moderate to a 0.1% m/m pace (median same) following the 0.3% gain in November. The separate real GDP measure is seen edging 0.3% higher in Q4 (median is for no change) after the 2.3% bounce in Q3. The reports will show a domestic economy that was limping along, yet still expanding, going into the new year.

US Manufacturing ISM: The February ISM is expected to decline to 48.0 (median 48.5) from 48.2 in January and 48.0 in December. Other measures of February producer sentiment have been mixed and despite some headline improvements the various components of the releases have remained weak which could spell downside risk for the ISM. Broadly speaking, we expect the ISM-adjusted average of all measures to decline to 48 for the month, a new cycle low, from 49 in January and 50 in December.

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