The improvement in stocks has run out of steam

March 15, 2016

FX News Today

The improvement in stocks has run out of steam,ВВВ which should keep bond futures supported. Asian stock markets are mostly slightly down, stock futures in the UK and the US are also heading south, after the BoJ kept policy on hold, while offering a somewhat bleaker picture of the economy and highlighting that inflation expectations are weakening. The door to further easing remains open then, but the BoJ’s decision to stay pat for now, is likely to be mirrored by other central banks this week. The Fed starts its two day meeting today and SNB and BoE will announce their policy decisions on Thursday, with policy expected to be kept on hold, leaving the focus on statements.

RBA – Upbeat on jobs but does not rule out rate cut.ВВВ The Minutes from the last RBA meeting show that it does not rule out another rate cut. Employment has stalled in January, following a very strong end to 2015. “Nevertheless, conditions in the labour market had clearly improved since early 2015,” the RBA said. “Leading indicators of employment had increased further and were consistent with employment growth in the months ahead. “But the central bank said low inflation will allow it to cut the cash rate if jobs growth flattens out or the global economy goes into meltdown. “Continued low inflation would provide scope to ease policy further, should that be appropriate to lend support to demand,” the minutes said.

BoJ kept policy on hold, but signalled an implicit easing bias, by painting a bleaker picture of the economy and warning that inflation expectations are falling. The bank also announced that it will exempt around USD 90 bln in money-reserve funds (MRFs) – short term funds – from negative rates, after warnings that investment money would be driven into bank deposits. The pledge to increase base money at an annual rate of JPY 80 trillion was left in place. The BoJ said that while “Japan’s economy continues to recover moderately as a trend”, the pick up in exports, which was still seen in January, has paused, mainly due to slowing growth in emerging market economies. At the same time it said inflation expectations weakened recently. So the door to further easing is left open.

ECB ups pressure on governments to implement structural reforms. Bank of France head Villeroy stressed that monetary policy alone cannot revive the economy and said France needs reforms to boost conference. ECB’s Rimsevics also said that monetary policy can only buy time and that politicians need to act on reforms. Hardly anything new, but with the ECB effectively removing market pressure on governments Draghi finds that verbal pressure alone is a blunt tool.

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Main Macro Events Today

US PPI:ВВВ February PPI is expected to decline by 0.3% (median -0.2%) in its Tuesday release with the core figure down -0.1% (median -0.2%). This compares to January figures which had the headline up 0.1% and the core up 0.4%. Data in line with our forecasts would result in a flat y/y headline with a 1.1% y/y pace of growth for the core. Oil price declines have tapered off but are still likely to weigh on the release.

US Retail Sales:ВВВ February retail sales data is out on Tuesday and the headline should decline 0.2% (median -0.1% with the ex-autos figure down 0.3% ( median -0.2%) for the month. This follows January figures of 0.2% for the headline and 0.1% for the ex-autos figure.

US NY Fed Empire State Manufacturing Index:ВВВ The March Empire State Index is out Tuesday and should reveal a headline increase to -12.0 (median -12.0) from -16.6 in February and -19.4 in January. Producer sentiment was strong over the course of the fall but weakened into the new year. We expect the ISM-adjusted average of all measures of sentiment to hold at 49 for a third month.

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