European futures are pointing to a slightly stronger open on Wednesday, ahead of the first of three extremely important days for financial markets.
Today there are two big focuses, economic data and Greek discussions. Tomorrow’s general election in the UK remains a key political event this week but the polls have barely moved for months and that is unlikely to change now, the campaign is effectively already over. Now we just have to wait and see how the vote pans out and what coalition government will rule. At this stage it seems that while the Tories may win the most seats, the biggest majority that exists is an anti-Tory one which could mean Conservatives have more seats but Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister.
Greek negotiations have been rumbling on for months now but it’s only in the last week or two than any form of progress appears to have been made. Greek officials have recently claimed that it has made serious concessions in an attempt to get a deal done but that differences exist between what the IMF and the EU want out of the deal.
While I’m sure this is not entirely true, it does appear some concessions have been made by Greece, albeit far smaller ones than its creditors want from the deal. There still appears to be disagreements over the minimum wage, which Alexis Tsipras wanted to increase, and labour and pension reforms.
It has also been suggested that the IMF is willing to cut a funding lifeline to Greece unless the EU agrees to a debt write-off, which would be a surprising twist, although this was denied by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. This would suggest that, as noted by Greek officials, the IMF and EU are not necessarily on the same page. As always though, this is all just speculation at the moment and just supports the view that some progress is being made but we are still some distance from a deal being reached. It looks like we’re going to enter the weekend with all this uncertainty hanging over us.
A large amount of data will be released throughout the morning in Europe, with final services and composite PMIs coming from the eurozone, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK. Many of these are revised readings of the numbers released a couple of weeks ago and therefore the market impact should be much lower, unless we see some significant revisions.
Alongside this we’ll also get retail sales figures from the eurozone and unemployment data for Greece, which could be extremely interesting under the circumstances. The European Commission’s growth forecast for Greece this year was revised down from 2.5% to 0.5% on the back of these stalled bailout negotiations. It will be interesting to see what impact this is having on unemployment with recent months data suggesting now too much although the rate of decline has dropped.
Later on in the US session, we have plenty more data to come and there’ll be particular focus on the ADP non-farm employment change. Friday’s jobs report has taken on increasing importance following the poor first quarter performance and Fed’s still hawkish stance. The report on Friday could either justify the Fed’s stance or cast doubts on its forecasts and today’s ADP reading could offer insight into which of these it will be.
The FTSE is expected to open 8 points higher, the CAC 11 points higher and the DAX 22 points higher.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.