US cash equity markets closed with modest gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average index underperformed the other major bourses, weighed by Wal-Mart shares which have dropped almost 10% after their Q4 earnings. Gap shares also fell sharply after their President and CEO Jeff Kirwan is to leave the company. In fixed, Treasuries ended the session in the red as investors observed the US Treasury issue $179.0 Bln of debt, including a two-year note that tailed by 0.1 basis points to yield 2.255% on a soft bid-to-cover. In currency space, the USD index remained onside having gained against almost all its G10 rivals although lost some momentum after news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged an attorney (Alex Van Der Zwaan) with making false statement to the FBI and his office in regards to the Russia probe. Sterling continued to be supported after jumping earlier in the day on a report from Business Insider suggested that European Parliament is to call for Britain to have ‘privileged’ single market access after Brexit. In energy space, oil prices recovered off their lowest levels with US crude futures settling higher at $61.90 (+$0.22).
Before the open in Asia, Japanese Top Currency Diplomat Asakawa said recent Yen moves have been one-sided, adding she sees no need for major change in G20 agreement to refrain from competitive devaluation of currency. Data wise, Australia’s Westpac leading index rose 0.24% m/m in January.
Despite Wall Street’s lower finish, Asian bourses gained, while markets in China remained shut for the Lunar New Year holiday. Data wise, Australia’s wage price index beat in Q4, up 0.6% q/q and 2.1% y/y, while construction work done fell 19.4% (f/c -10.0%) q/q in Q4. The Aussie Dollar saw a slight gain on the data. Meanwhile, Japan’s flash February manufacturing PMI fell to 54.0. We also heard from BoJ Board Member Funo, who said there is no need to be pessimistic on the economy, adding it takes time to improve productivity. Elsewhere, oil prices declined in Asian trade, while the Greenback continued to pull away from three-year lows.
Looking ahead, at 05:30 GMT, we get Dutch consumer spending and consumer confidence, followed by Norway’s unemployment rate, Turkish home sales and Dutch house price index at 07:00 GMT. Next at 08:00 GMT, we get France’s manufacturing & services PMIs and Swiss money supply, followed by Germany’s manufacturing & services PMIs and Sweden’s debt office borrowing forecasts at 08:30 GMT. Then at 09:00 GMT, we get the Euro Zone’s manufacturing & services PMIs, followed by the UK’s jobs report and public sector net borrowing at 09:30 GMT. Also of note, Sweden sells SEK2.0 Bln 2028 & 2032 bonds at 10:03 GMT, while we look for possible comments from Riksbank Deputy Governor Jansson at 10:30 GMT.