The Donald Trump and Angela Merkel meeting

Market movers today

  • In the US, we are due to get preliminary University of Michigan consumer confidence data (one of the soft economic indicators) for March today.

  • The Donald Trump and Angela Merkel meeting, initially scheduled for this Monday but postponed due to the blizzard in the north eastern part of the US, is set to take place at the White House today. This will be the first meeting between the German Chancellor and the new American President. Likely topics on the agenda are the future of the transatlantic alliance but also funding for NATO and relations with Russia.

  • In the euro area, S&P is scheduled to update its rating and outlook on Portugal, Finland, Austria and Cypress, while Moody’s will be reviewing Estonia.

  • In Denmark, the Association of Danish Mortgage Banks is due to release its housing market statistics for Q4 16.

 

Selected market news

Different camps of the Governing Council within the ECB seem to be forming, both when it comes to how the ‘normalisation’ of monetary policy should start and regarding when it is time to embark on a clearer adjustment to the forward guidance. Overnight Ewald Nowotny (Hawk) was quoted in a Handelsblaat interview as saying that the ‘deposit rate could rise before [the] main rate’, while Peter Praet said during a speech in Brussels that ‘inflation dynamics haven’t yet become self-sustained’. It will be interesting to see how this ‘gorge’ continues to develop.

Donald Trump’s first budget outline was presented yesterday. As expected, it had heavy emphasis on infrastructure spending without further detail and an increased defence budget, which he plans to fund with deep cuts to diplomatic and foreign aid programmes. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency is set to see its budget cut by 31%. The full 2018 budget is due to be released later this spring and it will include ‘our specific mandatory and tax proposals, as well as a full fiscal path’.

Yesterday’s Norges Bank meeting did not bring any surprises, as the sight deposit rate was left unchanged at 0.50% and the Board maintained the ‘neutral bias’ introduced in September. The rate path was revised ‘postponing’ the expectation of when the first rate hike will occur and stating ‘the key policy rate will most likely remain at today’s level in the period ahead’.

The Bank of England meeting did not surprise much either, as it made no policy changes and reiterated its neutral stance by repeating it could move ‘in either direction’. However, the meeting was not completely uneventful, as Kristin Forbes (a known hawk) voted for a March hike and the statement disclosed that ‘some members noted that it would take relatively little further upside news…for them to consider that a more immediate reduction in policy support might be warranted’.

The overnight session was very quiet, with the Asian equity indices seeing marginal gains and losses, no big FX moves and slightly higher yields of Japanese government bonds.

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