February 14, 2018, by Tracy Alloway
Markets are up
U.S. stock futures are higher and European equities are gaining after a mixed session in Asia. But there are a couple things that could knock risk appetite this Wednesday. It could be a huge day for the VIX as options are set to expire (the Cboe Volatility Index tends to have bigger swings on days its contracts mature, with intraday moves of 13 percent in recent months.) And then there’s …
U.S. consumer price data — the most anticipated inflation reading in recent memory — are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Economists expect core CPI, which excludes food and energy, to have risen 1.7 percent in January from a year earlier. The release comes after the recent global plunge in stocks and bonds, which was said to be driven in part by fears that rising prices would spur the Federal Reserve to hike rates faster, potentially sending valuations in equity and credit markets back down to Earth.
Israeli police have recommended charging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a non-binding decision. Netanyahu’s coalition government showed no sign of splintering after the recommendation, throwing him a political lifeline until the attorney general decides whether to send him to trial – a process that could take months. The shekel extended losses against the dollar after the news.
Zuma allies raided
Pressure is mounting on South African President Jacob Zuma after the police raided the homes of some of his key allies and leaders of the ruling African National Congress vowed to force him from office. If Zuma resists the order to resign and cede power to rival Cyril Ramaphosa, he could be ousted through a no-confidence motion in parliament. The rand is surging against the dollar on Wednesday, at 11.8 as of 5:42 a.m. ET.
The yen climbed to a 15-month high of 106.84 against the greenback as traders probed Japanese officials’ tolerance for appreciation, hurting the nation’s stocks. The yen’s strength in recent weeks has already triggered some initial commentary from Japan’s Ministry of Finance, but Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is probably watching this indicator for clues as to whether the currency is rising too far, too fast.