Trading on Wall Street was lacklustre, with the S&P moving between small gains and losses before moving lower into the close. News that a meeting between President Trump and China’s President Jinping Xi was being pushed back into April served to dampen demand for riskier assets. The postponement of the meeting raised questions over how ready the two sides are to put an end to the ongoing trade dispute and sign a trade deal.
These concerns were short lived. A report that more progress had been made in trade talks between US and China calmed market jitters and lifted Asian markets overnight. Sentiment was also supported by news that the UK Parliament voted to postpone Brexit. The BoJ offering a bleaker economic outlook owing to heightened overseas risks was shrugged off by traders.
Parliament votes to extend Article 50
Ministers voted 412 – 202 in favour of delaying Brexit. How long for will now depend on what happens in Parliament next week. Theresa May will bring her Brexit deal back to Parliament for a third time. Another defeat and she will request a long extension, around two years. Should she win, then just a short technical extension. Her strategy here being that the fear of a long extension potentially resulting in Brexit not happening should bring Eurosceptics to rally behind her deal. A case of this deal or no Brexit. The pound slipped 0.3% following the vote and has remained steady since. Still comfortably above $1.32.
Oil hovers at 4 month high
Crude oil was steady around the flat line in early trade, as the recent rally paused for breath. Oil continues to hover around 4-month highs amid ongoing global production cuts and further supply disruptions in Venezuela. Trader attention will now turn to the International Energy Agency (EIA) for its monthly data due for release later today.
Euro higher ahead of CPI
The euro is moving higher versus the broadly weaker dollar in early trade. Its ability to hang on to these gains will depend on eurozone inflation figures due for release. After, German inflation failed to live up to expectations, traders will be watching Eurozone CPI figures closely. The expectation is that inflation in the region picked up to 1.5% year on year in February, up from 1.4% the month before. On a monthly basis, inflation is forecast to have increased by 0.3%, up from a decline of -1% in January.
Whilst these figures would offer some short-term support to the euro and solace to the ECB that that, although sluggish, eurozone inflation was picking up in the right direction. The fact is, inflation is still a long was off target. Growth is also dreary at best, meaning the prospects of an interest rate hike remain a significant distance ahead.
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