It’s been a relatively slow start to trading on Thursday as investors absorb the FOMC minutes on Wednesday, weigh up the next move in sterling as it trades around its all-time low and look ahead to the EIA crude inventory data.
We’ve been through a busy volatile period for the financial markets and while I don’t for a second think it’s passed, we may just be saying them take a little breather so far today. The FOMC minutes on Wednesday didn’t really tell us anything we weren’t aware of already, which is why the reaction to them was fairly muted. If anything, they reaffirmed the belief that a rate hike in December looks quite likely, with a number of officials showing concerns about the recession risk associated with not raising rates. Market expectations for a hike in December remain around the crucial 70% level which the Fed has historically sought before raising rates so as to avoid causing any unnecessary turbulence in the markets.
Source – CME Group FedWatch Tool
The pound appears to have found some stability so far today, having been caught in a vicious downward spiral over the last week that sent it plummeting to an all-time low on a trade weighted basis, sparked by growing concerns over a so called “hard Brexit”. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to alleviate some of those concerns when accepting that any deal would be put before parliament but still, it continues to look heavy and I’m seeing no signs at this stage that the sell-off has ended. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take another dip back towards 1.20 against the dollar.
Oil markets will remain in focus today as we get data from EIA that is expected to show a five week run of inventory drawdowns has come to an end, which could pull prices back from the four month highs they currently find themselves at. A loose deal between OPEC that Russia could join in the coming months once details are finalised, combined with consecutive weeks of inventory drawdowns has seen oil surge around 15% in recent weeks to trade back above $50, where it has now run into some resistance. If we want to see $60 then details on the deal with have to be forthcoming and members will have to stick to it, something they have failed to do in the past. Even then, with the oil rig count on the rise again and likely to pick up faster as oil spikes, we could see US production increase again which could offset any output freeze by OPEC.
Another focus today will be speeches from two more Fed officials, Patrick Harker and Neel Kaskari, neither of which are voting members of the FOMC this year but both of which will be in 2017. Their views will therefore be of great interest to traders, with markets currently not pricing in another rate hike after December up to September next year. We’ll also get the latest jobless claims data from the US.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.