Yesterday US reports revealed disappointments

March 4, 2016

FX News Today

The AUD, NZD and emerging nation currencies gained ground against the USD, JPY and other currencies, continuing to outperform as stocks in Asia built on weekly gains, posting the best winning streak of the year in many cases. AUDUSD logged a three-month high at 0.7376, and AUDJPY a one-month peak. USDJPY, meanwhile, recouped to near 114.00 from the low 113s. EURUSD consolidated in the mid-1.09s after yesterday’s short-covering rally following above-forecast data out of the Eurozone. In the stock market realm, Japan’s Nikkei closed 0.3% for the better, up by over 4% on the week, while the main Chinese indexes are set to make today the fourth consecutive daily gain. Oil prices have continued to consolidate the 30%-plus gains seen from January lows amid signs of an improving supply-demand balance. The PBoC’s cutting of its reserve requirement ratio for big commercial banks on Monday, expectations of more stimulus from the ECB at its meeting next Thursday, and encouraging data in the US this week, coupled with market-satisfyingly confident-but-cautious guidance from Fed policymakers have collectively underpinned the prevailing risk-on sentiment this week. Attention is now on today’s US payrolls report, which is expected to show a decent 190k headline gain.

Dallas Fed’s Kaplan sounded relatively dovish emphasizing patience on rate hikes and policy accommodation, especially relative to tighter global financial conditions so far this year. That said, he sees resilience in the US economy for 2016 with a 1.9% GDP forecast, once accounting for slowing global growth and tighter financial conditions. As a Texas-based policy maker he sees potential ripple effects from weakness in the energy sector, though oil inventories may begin to fall by mid-2017. He also forecasts the jobless rate falling at a slower pace this year, though a low rate is more sustainable given global overcapacity. Kaplan said that inflation as tracked by the Dallas Fed ticked up in January, which bears watching. Markets remain inert ahead of payrolls.

Yesterday’s US reports revealed disappointments across the factory goods, ISM-NMI, and claims figures that trimmed prospects for both GDP and payrolls, though the pattern of upside surprises in US data over the past week remains intact despite today’s setbacks. The productivity report tracked estimates with welcome Q4 boosts in productivity and output alongside big downward bumps in Q3 and Q4 compensation that allowed a hefty trimming in Q3 and Q4 growth for unit labor costs.

Talks between OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers are on the table potentially in the first half of April, according to a Gulf OPEC delegate, but have not been formally set just yet. The source believes the meeting would likely be held in Doha, or some other Gulf city. A production “freeze” at elevated levels was agreed between the Saudis and Russia, but a wider agreement remains to be hammered out. Oil prices continue to consolidate gains in the meantime.

Main Macro Events Today

US Employment: February nonfarm payrolls are expected to increase by 190k, with a 180k private payroll gain. Forecast risk: upward, as improving claims could provide a lift. Market risk: downward, as substantial weakness could impact the path of rate hikes. The unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 4.9%. The workweek is expected to remain at 34.6 from January. Hourly earnings are expected to be up 0.1% which would leave a 2.5% y/y rise. Hours-worked should be up 0.1% for the month following a 0.4% increase last month.

Canada Ivey PMI: Canada’s Ivey PMI is expected to drop to 60.0 in February after jumping to 66.0 in January. The run-up in the January Ivey did not mean sentiment across Canada switched from mild pessimism in December to a level of optimism not seen since February of 2012’s 66.5 reading. Underlying not seasonally adjusted data typically sees big swings over November, December and January that are proving difficult to adjust in the seasonally adjusted series. That was likely again the case this time around.

Canada Trade: The trade deficit is projected to widen modestly to -C$0.8 bln in January (median -C$1.0 bln) from -C$0.6 bln in December. We see a 0.5% m/m gain in exports after the 3.9% surge in December. We see a 0.5% m/m gain in exports after the 3.9% surge in December. Imports are expected to rise 1.0% in January after the 1.6% bounce in December. Oil prices are a key risk, having plunged in January, which should weigh on import and export values.

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