Asian stock markets headed south

May 18, 2016

FX News Today

European Outlook: Asian stock markets headed south, as stronger than expected GDP data out of Japan cast doubt over hopes of further easing and a delay to the sales tax hike, which added to US rate hike bets. FTSE 100 futures are also down. Positive leads then for European bond markets, which already moved higher yesterday, although the 10-year Bund future lost some of its gains in after hour trade. Today’s data calendar brings the final reading of Eurozone April CPI, expected to be confirmed at -0.2% y/y, and UK  labour market data. The April claimant count rate is seen steady at 2.1% and the ILO unemployment rate for March unchanged at 5.1% y/y. Earnings growth could show a slight deceleration in the rate excluding bonuses.

Japan’s GDP grew 1.7% in Q1: This following the downward revised 1.7% drop in Q4 (was -1.1%). The magnitude of the increase in Q1 easily outpaced projections (we saw +0.5%), but did follow a hefty downward revision to Q4. While the return to growth dodged a technical recession, the detail suggest underlying momentum is lacking in the economy, despite years of Abenomics and aggressive easing from the BoJ. Notably, an extra day in February due to leap year boosted consumption relative to the previous quarter. Private consumption grew 0.5% (q/q, sa) in Q1 after contracting a revised 0.8% in Q4 (was -0.9%). Business spending took a disappointing turn, falling 1.4% (q/q, sa) in Q1 after a revised 1.2% gain in Q4 (was +1.5%). The yen is steady, with USDJPY at 109.20.

Fedspeak: Fed’s Williams and Lockhart both noted June is a live meeting, in their comments at a Politico event. Both are doves, but have been noting the potential for further normalization this year, consistent with the FOMC’s projections of 2 25 bp hikes. Lockhart said it’s too early to draw conclusions about Q2 growth, but he wouldn’t take June off the table. Like several of his colleagues, he warns that the markets are more pessimistic than he is. Neither are voters this year. Fed moderate Kaplan said that the Fed should hike rates “in the not too distant future,” while he sees the household sector in good shape and forecasts a 2% rise in 2016 GDP, though still some slack in the labor force.

Main Macro Events Today

EMU CPI: We expect the headline rate to be confirmed at -0.2% (median same). The decline back into negative territory last month was partly due to special factors with the earlier timing of Easter meaning that holiday related prices, which picked up over Easter, fell back again in April. This distorts the annual rate somewhat and goes some way to explain the swings over the March/April period. In any case, the ECB has already reacted pre-emptively with the March set of easing measures and is now firmly in wait and see mode and focused on implementing what has already been announced, so that any revision won’t change the immediate rate outlook.

FOMC Minutes: Published at 21:00 GMT and should make interesting reading as a number of officials want interest rate hikes as early as June or July, whereas the market is discounting this heavily with only 23% of investors expecting a hike in either month. As ever the words that are used and indeed not used will be scrutinized closely.

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