Monday, 25 April 2016

Global stocks, dollar stumble ahead of Fed, BOJ meetings

World stocks, the dollar and oil all fell modestly on Monday as investors locked in recent gains before central bank meetings in the United States and Japan this week.

European and Asian equities both sank as 3.2 and 1.2 percent falls for miners .SXPP and oil firms .SXEP pushed the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 down for a third straight day and Tokyo .N225 gave back a fifth of the 4 percent it made last week.

Wall Street looked set for a subdued start too with another flurry of company earnings from, among others, Halliburton and Xerox about to hit after some disappointing showings last week. [.N]

Signs that a three-month rally in stocks and commodities markets was cooling, a U.S. Federal Reserve rate decision on Wednesday and a Bank of Japan policy update on Thursday meant there was little incentive for traders to be bold.

Talk has been that Japan could push deeper into negative interest rate territory, while there is intense interest on where the Fed currently stands on another rate hike.

"Central banks are still the name of the game," said Nordea's chief strategist for developed markets, Jan von Gerich.

"There is a chance that the Fed could surprise with a bit of hawkishness on Wednesday. The dollar hasn't really strengthened and the S&P 500 is back near its all-time high, so they could certainly test the market."

The dollar index .DXY was trading 0.3 percent lower on the day at 94.862. Against the euro, it dipped to $1.1256, at the weaker end of a 10-cent range it has held for a year, while the yen rose to 111.16 after a walloping at the end of last week.

Sterling, meanwhile, had hit its highest in over a month after a UK media blitz from President Barack Obama calling for Britain to stay in the European Union saw bookmakers lengthen the odds on a Brexit vote in June.

"If one of our best friends is in an organization that enhances their influence and enhances their power and enhances their economy, then I want them to stay in it," Obama said.

The subdued start to the week for Europe's markets, was further compounded by an unexpected dip in German business morale amid simmering global growth concerns.

The Munich-based Ifo economic institute said its business climate index, which surveys around 7,000 firms, edged down to 106.6 in April compared to a forecast of a rise to 107.0. That was still well above the survey's long-term average, but also its fourth fall in five months.

"The mood in the German economy is good but not euphoric," Ifo economist Klaus Wohlrabe said, citing concerns about weakening exports -- traditionally Germany's main growth driver -- linked to a slowdown in the United States and China.


The jittery mood sent investors back into government bonds, having largely shunned them for the last couple of weeks.

Bund yields fell a fraction but remained above 0.2 percent having ended Friday with their biggest weekly rise since last December. <GVD/EUR> U.S. Treasury yields also squeezed lower in European trade.

As well as the big central bank meetings this week, there is a blizzard of multinational company earnings and A-list macro data including both U.S. and euro zone Q1 GDP. ECONG7

In Asia overnight, Chinese shares had continued a recent poor run as the blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 and Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC slipped 0.5 and 0.6 percent respectively. [.SS]

Japan's Nikkei .N225 ended down 0.8 percent as the yen pulled off its lows. MSCI's benchmark 23-country emerging market index .MSCIEF dropped roughly the same in its second consecutive session of falls.

Japan's central bank on Thursday is likely to cut its price forecasts and debate whether a strong yen, weak global demand and soft consumption have hurt inflation expectations enough to warrant another hit of stimulus.

"We've had a strong 20 days (in Japan) and now is the point where the index will break out or move sideways in anticipation of further catalysts," said Martin King, co-managing director at Tyton Capital Advisors.

Among commodities, oil prices slipped after notching their third straight week of gains following a pick-up up in market sentiment and signs a persistent global supply glut may be easing. [O/R]

Brent LCOc1 fell roughly 1 percent to $44.65 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 shed 1.2 percent to $43.20.

Industrial metals also sagged after Shanghai aluminum futures hit their highest level in nearly 10 months overnight, while gold XAU= ticked higher on its reputation as a safe port in unsettled markets.


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