US Indices on Course For Full House

Futures Point to Full Week of Gains After Sharp Correction

US equity markets could end the week with a full house of gains as long as indices manage to hold onto the small gains being seen in futures ahead of the open.

This would also bring an end to two shocking weeks for equity markets that saw more than 10% quickly wiped off indices, the first time we’ve seen such a move since the start of 2016. While the prospect of higher yields and interest rates, combined with a surge in volatility, have been blamed for the decline, the rebound we’re now seeing reaffirms the belief that fundamentals are still strong which should prevent the situation deteriorating further.

There are a few economic releases that traders will likely be aware of as the week draws to a close. The UoM consumer sentiment reading is always an interesting release, given the importance of the consumer to the US economy. Building permits and housing starts will also be released ahead of the open on Friday. The bulk of companies may have already reporting numbers for the fourth quarter but there are still some more to come today, with 13 due to release earnings including Coca Cola and Kraft Heinz.

US Bond Auction TIPS the dollar

Sterling Resilient After Poor Retail Sales Figures

UK retail sales data for January was once again disappointing, providing further evidence that the post-Brexit squeeze on consumers is heaving an economic impact. While this could be partially reversed as sterling continues to rebound off its lows and wage growth picks up to offset higher living costs – assuming it does – we’re seeing few signs that the squeeze is easing and that’s being reflected in the spending figures.

The pound has actually been quite resilient to the data in the aftermath of the release. While it has since declined against the dollar, this has primarily been driven by the bounce in the greenback. The consumer squeeze and economic implications of it are already known and priced in, traders are far more concerned with wages and inflation and the impact this will have on interest rates, which makes the jobs report next Wednesday far more important.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

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Bitcoin Struggling to Overcome Psychological Barrier

Bitcoin is once again threatening the psychological $10,000 barrier but as was the case on Thursday, it’s struggling to maintain its push above and once again finds itself falling slightly short. While a break above $10,000 should be no more significant than any other, it would appear to represent an end to the plunge in bitcoin that saw it fall around 70% from its mid-December highs and for this reason, it’s proving a difficult hurdle to overcome.

Bitcoin (CME) Daily Chart

Source – Thomson Reuters Eikon

Those expecting a similar response to breaking above $10,000 that we saw last time – a near 100% increase in less than three weeks – may also be disappointed. We’re not seeing the kind of euphoria that accompanied the break at the end of November when the speculative fomo trade was contributing greatly to its meteoric rise. The crash of the last couple of months has made this less of a one-way move and those that got burned may not be so keen to jump back in.

DAX Gains Ground as Dollar Under Pressure

All of this is assuming that bitcoin will break above $10,000 which is far from certain when you consider the gradual – by its own standard – bounce from its lows. This could quite easily be another corrective move and the lows may be tested once again. The absence of a constant negative news flow is helping but whether this can be sustained is debatable.

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

US Futures Higher After Second Plunge This Week

Indices Remain Vulnerable After Entering Correction

US futures are trading slightly in the green ahead of the open on Friday, a day after stock markets once again tumbled leaving indices in correction territory.

As we saw on Thursday, this isn’t necessarily indicative of calm returning to the markets. The Dow recorded declines of more than 1,000 points for the second time this week, having never done so before, despite futures prior to the open being relatively unchanged on the previous days close.

Equities Lose $5 Trillion as Bulls Slay Bulls

Clearly there remains a lot of volatility and nervousness in the markets and I don’t expect this to ease up heading into the weekend. Stock markets will likely remain vulnerable to further shocks heading into today’s close and possible even next week. That said, with a 10% correction having now completed, I wonder whether investors will now start looking to buy the dips as the fundamental backdrop remains strong.

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US Congress Passes Funding Bill Ending Brief Government Shutdown

On a more positive note, the House and the Senate approved a new funding bill in the early hours of Friday morning that will see the government through to 23 March and increase spending limits for two years, ending a showdown that came into effect overnight.

Markets haven’t been too concerned about the prospect of a shutdown since the start of the year despite two having now taken place so I don’t expect to see any boost now that a deal has been reached. This is merely just another self-inflicted risk that’s been temporarily averted.

CAC Loses Ground as Global Sell-Off Continues

Sterling Dips After Worrying Manufacturing Data

It’s a slightly quieter day in terms of notable economic events. The Canadian jobs data will be of interest given that the central bank has been relatively aggressively raising interest rates over the last six months. The UK GDP estimate from NIESR will also be of interest, given that the pound has continued to rise even as the economy experiences a notable slowdown.

The manufacturing and industrial production figures from the UK this morning showed another dip in December, with the latter in particular experiencing no year on year growth. Given that these are among the areas that have benefited since the referendum, it may be a minor concern. The pound dipped after the releases having failed to hold above 1.40 against the dollar in recent days.

GBPUSD Daily Chart

Economic Calendar

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Dow Suffers Biggest Ever One Day Points Loss

US stock markets bounced back following the flash crash on Monday but the Dow still ended the session down 4.6%, having suffered the largest one day points loss ever. The Dow shedded more than 1,500 points at one stage, a large chunk of which occurred in a very short period of time.

Naturally there is a lot of questions being asked about the role of automated trading in the collapse and I’m sure the discussion will happen over the coming days but the important thing is that markets have recovered from the initial shock, while at the same time losing a considerable amount in the process.

With this being the second consecutive session in which we’ve had heavy selling, traders are looking for reasons for the decline and whether further downside is to come. Higher yields on the expectation that interest rates will rise faster than expected has been blamed until now and could be responsible for what will hopefully prove to be a brief and healthy correction.

Still, this is unlikely to be what Jerome Powell was hoping when he started his tenure as Fed Chair and already people are asking questions about whether investors were getting ahead of themselves in expecting three or more rate hikes this year. Once the dust settles we’ll surely have a much better idea of whether higher rate expectations are truly to blame for these suddenly shaky markets and a storming return for volatility.

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