Fed Beige Book reiterated growth expanded in most Districts

March 3, 2016

FX News Today

Caixin China Services PMI disappointed in February and came in at 51.2 while analysts expected a 0.2 point rise to 52.6 from January. Index is still an indication of expanding services sector but growth was modest and much weaker than the average growth in long term. The survey shows that contraction in the manufacturing sector can spill over into service sector. This could be a red flag for the government and push it to increase its stimulative efforts further. Chinese government has been trying to replace manufacturing and export with private consumption as a key driver for the economy.

Fed’s Beige Book reiterated growth expanded in most Districts, according to the report prepared by the KC Fed, with contacts generally optimistic over future economic growth. Consumer spending increased in most regions, but some weakness was noted in KC and Dallas. Auto sales remained elevated. Manufacturing was mostly flat, but conditions varied considerably across Districts. Most note weak demand originating from the energy sector, not surprisingly. Additionally, the stronger dollar and weaker global growth outlook were headwinds to exports. Nonfinancial services activity was up slightly, with demand for staffing services in the rise. Transportation was mixed. Residential real estate was mostly on the rise, while home inventories were low. Residential construction activity had strengthened. Nonresidential sales also improved. Labor market conditions continued to improve. Wage growth varied from flat to strong across the 12 Districts, and most noted consumer prices were holding steady.

SF Fed’s Williams said that domestic demand is overwhelming weakness from abroad and he sees the US service sector as the driver next year, while inflation should move back to 2% over the next couple years. He doesn’t see the stock market a good indicator of where the economy is going and doesn’t think that China will be a huge risk to the US economic outlook. Williams sees no tangible risk that the US will fall into recession and the Fed strategy of raising rates is the right one. He still sees some accommodation as needed, but over time favors normalization. This is in keeping with his more bullish view of the economy and consistent favoring of normalizing rates for this hawkish dove.

The 214k February ADP rise beat the analyst estimates. The mining-restrained 5k rise in February goods jobs included a big 27k increase for construction jobs follows yesterday’s solid construction spending report to signal encouraging prospects for that sector, though we saw a 9k drop for factory jobs. A stronger than expected 208k climb for service sector jobs explained the headline ADP overshoot, and countered fears of a weakening service sector. U.S. reports over the last week have largely countered the market narrative of a slowing economy despite the big hit to trade revealed in last Friday’s trade data.

Main Macro Events Today

EMU Final Services PMI: The Eurozone Markit Services PMI for February, is expected to be confirmed at 53.0, unchanged from the preliminary reading. Confidence has been coming off, although mainly in the manufacturing sector, which is more focused on global headwinds and slowing emerging market growth. The services sector continues to benefit from robust domestic demand and PMI levels suggest ongoing expansion, but growth momentum is clearly slowing down and even a better than expected number would do little to dampen demands for further easing from the ECB.
US initial jobless claims: Jobless claims are expected to be 270k in the week-ended February 27. Continuing claims are expected to fall to 2,229k for the week-ended February 20. Forecast risk: upward, as the end of the holidays should slow layoffs. Market risk: downward, as weaker than expected data could slow the path of rate hikes
US Factory Orders: January factory orders are expected to grow 2.0% with inventories down 0.2%. Forecast risk: upward, given the stronger topline durable inventory numbers. Market risk: downward, as weaker data could impact the path of rate hikes.

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