U.S. Markit flash manufacturing PMI up to 51.4

March 23, 2016

FX News Today

European Outlook: Asian stock markets were mostly slightly lower, U.S. and U.K. stock futures are also heading south. European markets managed to close with a slight gain yesterday, after recovering from the initial bout of risk aversion following the Brussel’s terror attacks. Today’s calendar is pretty empty, with a German 30-year Bund sale and comments from Bundesbank President Weidmann.

Fed’s Evans looks for 2016 growth of around 2% to 2.5%: The economic fundamentals are quite good, sharing the views of his FOMC colleagues, while adding that international developments have been a drag. But, he seems a little more cautious in terms of future rate hikes. And unlike Williams or Lockhart who underscored that April is a live policy meeting in recent comments, he said a “wait and see” approach is more appropriate so that risks can be assessed. Remember though, that he has been one of the more ardent doves (though so was Williams). The economic and financial risks in 2016 are somewhat higher than he had hoped. He also suggested 2 rate hikes this year is a decent assumption. The non-voter also said the Fed needs rates to go up organically, as a result of a stronger economy.

U.S. Markit flash manufacturing PMI up to 51.4: It rose 0.1 in March, after declining 1.1 points to 51.3 in February. However, this is a 5th straight month the index has held a barely expansionary 51, 52 handle. The index topped out last year at 55.7 in March and generally eroded from there. Both employment and new orders increased. The improvement is consistent with the trend in Eurozone PMI data earlier yesterday which mostly beat expectations.

Iraq plans to accept the oil freeze proposal: According to the Iraqi oil ministry they will accept the proposed freeze at January output levels. This followed news that marginal producer Libya did not plan to attend the Doha OPEC meeting in April. WTI crude oil (USOil) lost 1% overnight but remain close to three month highs, it is currently trading at $41.00. US weekly crude inventories are released later today and are expected to increase to 2.5m bbls.

 

Main Macro Events Today

US New Home Sales

February new home sales are out later today and should reveal a 1.2% increase to a 500k (median 520k) pace from 494k in January and 544k in December. Other data for the month were mixed with the MBA purchase index down 4.9% after rising 1.4% in January and existing home sales dropping 7.1% to 5.080 mln from 5.470 mln in January. New Homes Sales are a leading indicator of economic activity due to its impact on other sectors such as mortgages, furniture and appliance sales and general confidence.

Weidmann Speech

Jens Weidmann the President of the Deutsche Bundesbank is due to speak at the Liechtenstein Finance Forum. He is a full voting and very influential member of the ECB Governing Council. He is likely to remain critical of any further ECB activism.

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