Most Asian stocks ticked up Thursday, tracking gains on Wall Street after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting showed caution about raising interest rates, supporting markets. US Federal Reserve policy makers last month believed risks to the US economy had lessened but wanted to keep their interest rate policy “options open”, according to minutes released Wednesday, dampening hopes for an imminent rate hike.
The Federal Open Market Committee remained divided on the near-term danger of inflation, with some seeing little threat but others worried that there could be a sudden upward push on prices as the labour market continues to tighten.
Tokyo’s main index sank 1% as the dollar fell against the safe haven Japanese currency, slumping below 100 yen for the second time this week and hitting Japan’s exporters The Japanese market came under further pressure after fresh data Thursday showed exports slipped in July as shipments of vehicles, ships and steel products fell. Elsewhere, strong July employment data from Australia saw the bird rally 50 points above the 0.77 handle. The steady unemployment rate should mean the RBA remains on hold for another few months at least.
Gold prices extend its bullish move into the third straight session and now look to test $ 1360 mark amid broad based US dollar weakness while oil consolidates in Asia following a five-day winning streak which pushed prices very close to the magic figure of $50. Wednesday’s rally was on the back of the decline in the US stockpiles as the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirmed crude stockpiles fell by 2.5 million barrels in the week ended Friday. The major part of the rally has been fuelled by expectations that OPEC would announce a production freeze at September meeting.
So to the day ahead and we start the day with UK July Retail Sales (0930 BST). Retail sales in July are expected to remain unchanged from June and 4.2% higher than a year ago. Recent surveys of large retailers suggest sales have held up well in July, and it is feasible that a monthly increase will be posted. The consensus around the UK’s vote on the Brexit referendum is still relatively unchanged: The decision to exit the European Union will be relatively bad for the economy, but the damage will be limited by easier monetary and fiscal policy, leading to a weaker GBP. The retail sales data today is one of the first “hard” pieces of data on whether the Brexit is really having a negative effect on the economy. If retail sales have performed well, the crowded short GBP trade could be reversed, and GBPUSD might move towards the higher end of the post-referendum range.
This afternoon sees the US publish its weekly jobless claims and the August Philly Fed Survey (1330 BST). Claims are seen to be little changed at 269k while the Philly Fed is expected to rebound to +1.4 from last month’s -2.9.