February 1, 2018, by Lorcan Roche Kelly
Janet Yellen’s last Federal Reserve meeting produced a unanimous decision to keep rates unchanged, while setting up a likely interest-rate increase at Jerome Powell’s first meeting as chair next month, with futures markets project the odds of the latter as a done deal. The addition of the word “further” twice to the statement released with the yesterday’s decision is reinforcing expectations for multiple hikes this year. Treasury yields rose in its aftermath.
A Purchasing Managers’ Index for the euro area came in at 59.6 for January, one of the fastest paces on record for the month. While Germany and the Netherlands saw manufacturing PMIs above 60, it was the performance of Italy, at 59, and Greece with a stronger-than-expected 55.2 that underscore the breadth of the boom across the trading bloc. Manufacturing PMI data for the U.S. are due at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time, with ISM at 10:00 a.m.
Pacific Investment Management Co. said that the U.S. is fighting — and winning — a “cold currency war,” attributing the 12 percent decline in the dollar since the start of 2017 on fiscal and monetary policy, as well as rhetorical barbs. European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure warned yesterday that volatility in foreign-exchange markets could lead to an “unwarranted tightening” of monetary policy that the bank would have to “reassess and consider.” While the dollar edged higher in trading this morning, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index remains near its lowest level since 2014.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 0.4 percent, while Japan’s Topix index rallied to close 1.8 percent higher on positive bank earnings. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.5 percent higher at 5:45 a.m. with finance and technology shares leading the gains. S&P 500 futures added 0.2 percent, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.739 percent and gold was unchanged.
Apple Inc. reports earnings after the bell today, with analysts on the look-out for confirmation of disappointing iPhone X sales during the holiday quarter. Google parent Alphabet Inc. is expected to show steady sales growth of 22 percent when it releases its financials after the close. Amazon Inc. may also provide clues about its ambitious health-care plans. Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd is due to report ahead of the open.