U.K. inflation hits highest in more than five years, a cracked pipe pushed Brent crude over $65, and it’s Senate election day in Alabama. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s job got more difficult ahead of Thursday’s monetary-policy decision after headline inflation climbed to 3.1 percent in November, the highest level since March 2012, data this morning show. The pound rallied after the release though the gains proved short-lived with the currency little changed by 6:30 a.m. Eastern Time.
Brent crude rose above $65 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 after one of the world’s most important pipelines for the commodity was shut because of a small hairline crack. West Texas Intermediate was trading at $58.31 a barrel at 5:50 a.m., with the spread between the two major benchmarks close to $7. But the biggest move in energy markets is in U.K. natural gas, with front-month prices jumping as much as 20 percent this morning after a pipeline explosion in Austria threatened flows already under pressure from the cold snap in Britain.
Alabama voters go to the polls today to elect the state’s senator in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Republican candidate Roy Moore campaigned yesterday with Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon as he seeks to overcome scandals that have dogged his campaign. Democrat Doug Jones faces an uphill battle to win an election in a state that hasn’t returned a Democrat senator since 1992, with most polls showing Moore ahead, with one finding the candidates tied.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.2 percent, while Japan’s Topix index closed 0.1 percent higher in low volumes as investors await a raft of global central-bank meetings. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1 percent higher at 5:50 a.m. with tech stocks getting a lift from a $5 billion deal in the sector. S&P 500 futures added 0.1 percent, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.387 percent and gold was broadly unchanged.
The Federal Open Markets Committee begins its two-day meeting today, with markets seeing the announcement of a rate hike tomorrow as pretty much a done deal. For investors, the big thing to watch will be the updated outlook for the pace of future tightening, with economists surveyed by Bloomberg projecting the next rate increase in March. With predictions for anything between two and four hikes next year, any clarity could move markets.