GBP/USD – Pound Dips at Start of Week

The British pound is trading quietly in the Monday session. In North American trade, GBP/USD is trading at 1.4002, down 0.21% on the day. On the release front, there are no US events, with US markets closed for Presidents’ Day. In the UK, Rightmove HPI gained 0.8%, its strongest gain in four months. On Tuesday, the UK releases CBI Industrial Order Expectations.

GBP/USD gained 1.3% last week, as the dollar continued to lose ground to its major rivals. However, the dollar rebounded with gains on Friday, following strong US housing and consumer confidence reports on Friday. Building Permits jumped to 1.40 million in January, up from 1.30 million in December. This easily beat the estimate of 1.29 million. Housing Starts followed suit and improved to 1.33 million in January, up from 1.19 million a month earlier. This was well above the forecast of 1.28 million. There was more positive news from consumer confidence, as UoM Consumer Confidence climbed to 99.9, well above the estimate of 95.4 points. Despite stock market volatility, consumer confidence was boosted by the recent tax reform package and a red-hot labor market.

Should cryptocurrencies be regulated? Bitcoin has seen wild fluctuations in recent months, ranging from under $1000 to just under $20,000. There are growing calls for these currencies to be regulated, and central banks could play a key role in such a move. However, last week, ECB President Mario Draghi poured cold water on any ECB involvement, saying that it was not the ECB’s responsibility to ban or regulate Bitcoin. Draghi added that the ECB was exploring the use of blockchain, a digital technology to monitor bitcoin transactions. Still, with Bitcoin gaining more and more popularity, the Bank of England and other central banks will have to pay greater to attention to the impact of Bitcoin on the currency markets.

GBP/USD Fundamentals

Sunday (February 18)

  • 19:01 British Rightmove HPI. Actual 0.8%

Monday (February 19)

  • 14:45 BOE Governor Carney Speaks

Tuesday (February 20)

  • 6:00 British CBI Industrial Order Expectations

*All release times are GMT

*Key events are in bold

GBP/USD for Monday, February 19, 2018

GBP/USD February 19 at 12:25 EDT

Open: 1.4032 High: 1.4050 Low: 1.3959 Close: 1.4002

GBP/USD Technical

S1 S2 S1 R1 R2 R3
1.3744 1.3809 1.3901 1.4010 1.4128 1.4271

GBP/USD posted gains but then retracted in Asian trade. In the European session, the pair showed limited movement. In North American trade, GBP/USD headed lower but has recovered

  • 1.3901 is providing support
  • 1.4010 was tested earlier in resistance and remains under pressure

Current range: 1.3901 to 1.4010

Further levels in both directions:

  • Below: 1.3901, 1.3809 and 1.3744
  • Above: 1.4010, 1.4128, 1.4271 and 1.4345

OANDA’s Open Positions Ratio

In the Monday session, GBP/USD ratio is showing a majority for short positions (54%). This is indicative of trader bias towards GBP/USD continuing to move lower.

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Dollar Regains Ground Ahead of Fed Minutes

Higher US inflation fails to spark dollar revival

The US dollar depreciated across the board versus major pairs despite consumer prices rising more than expected. Inflation anxiety had triggered a sell-off in global stock markets with the Fed expected to ramp up their interest rate hike path yet the dollar did not benefit as higher rates have already been priced in by the market. Fiscal uncertainty driven by political factors continue to confound investors with stock indices rebounding this week and the dollar hitting a 2014 low. The paradox in consumer spending and retail sales continues as Americans remain confident in the economic outlook yet core retail sales remain flat and taking into consideration auto sales they actually dropped by 0.5 percent. The dollar showed some signs of life on Friday as it gained against a basket of major pairs, but not enough to offset the losses earlier in the week.

  • Fed to release minutes of January meeting
  • Kuroda renominated as Governor of Bank of Japan (BOJ)
  • Lower trading activity with start of Chinese New Year celebrations and 3 day weekend in NA

Dollar Recovers on Friday But Still Underwater this Week



The EUR/USD gained 1.62 percent in the last five days. The single currency is trading at 1.2448 with the EUR recovering against the earlier losses versus the USD suffered earlier in the month. US inflation rose more than expected and US treasuries dropped in prices as investors sold them anticipating higher rates this year. Bond yields rose with the 10 year at four year highs (2.93 percent). The correlation between higher yields and a stronger currency is broken at the moment for the USD as the confidence in the stability of the US economy is up for debate. Fundamentals are strong and would point to a higher dollar, but political uncertainty around fiscal stimulus has made it hard to quantify the effects of actual and proposed legislation on the currency. The U.S. Federal Reserve will publish the minutes from its January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday, February 21 at 2:00 pm EST. The meeting was the last presided by Chair Janet Yellen and is not expected to bring any surprises, but could prepare the market on what to expect in March when Chair Jerome Powell heads his first FOMC.

The USD went through a topsy-turvy week, with Wednesday’s release of consumer price index data providing the most volatility. The market forecasts were slightly improved with a 0.3 percent monthly gain. The employment report in February 2 was the first data point that suggested a stronger inflationary pressure. Stock markets had already suffered two difficult weeks and the dollar rose as the inflation data was released only to quickly give back all gains and end up in the red.

President’s day in the US will give some investors a much needed rest from a high octane trading week. The Lunar New Year celebrations will also affect trading volumes as Hong Kong and China markets will remain closed until Thursday. Stock markets had a positive week after stronger corporate results erased earlier losses.



The USD/JPY lost 2.38 percent during the week. The currency pair is trading at 106.19 as the JPY keeps gaining. The government issued a statement where it was clear there is no need for intervention and the market took it as a sign to keep buying the yen. The tone changed slightly on Friday as the currency kept appreciating and there were some warning that the trade is one sided. The softness of the USD and uncertainty about how the American government will deal with growing twin deficits and political drama has boosted the JPY due to some safe haven flows.

The reappointment of BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda along with other nominations of economist who favour further easing did not factor into Yen pricing in the short term, but should impact the growing gap between rates in Japan and the United States. In the short term, lack of stability in politics and fiscal uncertainty are overriding higher growth and interest rate expectations in the US.



Oil prices advanced during the week. The price of West Texas Intermediate is trading at $61.21 with most of the gains in energy coming from dollar softness. Oil prices suffered losses earlier in the month as higher production in Canada, Brazil and the United States is anticipated given the high prices and producers in those nations not bound to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cut agreement. Lack of traction of the US currency is keeping prices above $60.

A small rise in oil rigs in Baker Hughes was not enough to derail energy prices specially with an underlying weak US dollar. The OPEC agreement with other major producers has stabilized oil prices after the freewill caused by overproduction. The question remains if demand for energy has recovered to the point that even after the agreement timeline runs out supply will not once again outweigh demand causing another drop in prices.

Market events to watch this week:

Monday, February 19
7:30pm AUD Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 21
4:30am GBP Average Earnings Index 3m/y
9:15am GBP Inflation Report Hearings
2:00pm USD FOMC Meeting Minutes
Thursday, February 22
4:30am GBP Second Estimate GDP q/q
8:30am CAD Core Retail Sales m/m
11:00am USD Crude Oil Inventories
4:45pm NZD Retail Sales q/q
Friday, February 23
8:30am CAD CPI m/m

*All times EST
For a complete list of scheduled events in the forex market visit the MarketPulse Economic Calendar

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

OANDA fxTrade Advanced Charting Platform

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.

GBP/USD – Pound Higher as Sentiment Remains Negative on Greenback

The British pound continues to head higher this week. In North American trade, GBP/USD is trading at 1.4067, up 0.48% on the day. On the release front, there are no British events on the schedule. In the US, PPI gained 0.4%, matching the forecast. Core PPI also gained 0.4%, beating the estimate of 0.2%. Both indicators rebounded after declines in the previous month. Unemployment Claims climbed to 230 thousand, just above the estimate of 229 thousand. On Friday, the US releases key housing and consumer confidence numbers. The UK will release Retail Sales.

The pound has posted winning sessions every day this week, and has continued the upward trend on Thursday. GBP/USD has gained 1.7% this week, and punched above the 1.41 line earlier on Thursday. The pound posted strong gains on Wednesday, as US consumer spending reports were weaker than expected. Still, US fundamentals remain solid, as the US economy is showing strong expansion, the labor market remains at capacity, and inflation levels are moving higher. This has led some analysts to attribute the recent sag in the US dollar to technical factors rather than fundamental reasons.

With US inflation indicators pointing higher in January, the Fed will be reevaluating its projection for rate hikes in 2018. Currently, the Fed is planning three hikes this year, but that could change to four, or even five hikes, if inflation continues to head upwards and the robust US economy maintains its strong expansion.  The new head of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, received a rude welcome from the stock markets, as he started his new position last week. Powell sought to send a reassuring message on Tuesday, saying that the Fed is on alert to any risks to financial stability. However, it is clear that the Fed’s hand is limited when it comes to stock markets moves, and the volatility which we saw last week could resume at any time.

GBP/USD Fundamentals

Thursday (February 15)

  • 8:30 US PPI. Estimate 0.4%. Actual 0.4%
  • 8:30 US Core PPI. Estimate 0.2%. Actual 0.4%
  • 8:30 US Empire State Manufacturing Index. Estimate 17.7. Actual 13.1
  • 8:30 US Philly Fed Manufacturing Index. Estimate 21.5. Actual 25.8
  • 8:30 US Unemployment Claims. Estimate 229K. Actual 230K
  • 9:15 US Capacity Utilization Rate. Estimate 78.0%. Actual 77.5%
  • 9:15 US Industrial Production. Estimate +0.2%. Actual -0.1%
  • 10:00 US NAHB Housing Market Index. Estimate 72. Actual 72
  • 10:30 US Natural Gas Storage. Estimate -193B. Actual -194B
  • 16:00 US TIC Long-Term Purchases. Estimate 50.3B

Friday (February 16)

  • 4:30 British Retail Sales. Estimate 0.5%
  • 8:30 US Building Permits. Estimate 1.29M
  • 8:30 US Housing Starts. Estimate 1.23M
  • 8:30 US Import Prices. Estimate 0.6%
  • 10:00 US Preliminary UoM Consumer Sentiment. Estimate 95.4

*All release times are GMT

*Key events are in bold

GBP/USD for Thursday, February 15, 2018

GBP/USD February 15 at 11:30 EDT

Open: 1.3999 High: 1.4100 Low: 1.3995 Close: 1.4067

GBP/USD Technical

S1 S2 S1 R1 R2 R3
1.3809 1.3901 1.4010 1.4128 1.4271 1.4345

GBP/USD continues to break through resistance levels. On Thursday, GBP/USD inched higher in the Asian session. In European trade, the pair posted considerable gains. GBP/USD edged higher in North American trade but has given up these gains

  • 1.4010 is providing support
  • 1.4128 is the next line of resistance

Current range: 1.4010 to 1.4128

Further levels in both directions:

  • Below: 1.4010, 1.3901, 1.3809 and 1.3744
  • Above: 1.4128,, 1.4271 and 1.4345

OANDA’s Open Positions Ratio

GBP/USD ratio is showing gains in long positions. Currently, short and long positions are evenly split, indicative of a lack of trader bias as to what direction GBP/USD will take next.

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Brexit Expected to Cause a Recession in the UK

A majority of private equity executives and distressed debt investors are expecting a recession to hit the U.K. economy in the next two years, according to a new report.

The country’s decision to leave the European Union is cited as the main reason that there could be an economic downturn.

“It looks like the British economy is already suffering its effect with higher inflation, lower consumer spending, in particular around the Christmas trading period, and growth rates well below other developed economies,” Carlo Bosco, managing director of Greenhill investment bank, said in the European Distressed Debt Market Outlook 2018 report, released by analysis firm Debtwire Wednesday.



56 percent of private equity executives and 57 percent of distressed debt investors said they expect a recession — defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth — in the next two years. Most of the respondents predicted the recession will hit in 2018 rather than in 2019.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned Wednesday that the U.K. needs to find ways to make its economy more efficient and that Brexit had already begun hurting the economy.

“Higher prices, caused by a weaker pound, have limited increases in people’s spending, and uncertainty about the future relationship with the EU has kept some business investments on hold,” the IMF said in its annual report on the British economy.

via CNBC

US/German Bond Yield Gap Hits 10-month high

The gap between German and U.S. 10-year borrowing costs reached its widest point since April 2017 on Thursday after a higher-than-expected inflation print in the United States led to a sharp sell-off in U.S. Treasuries.

While investors also shed European government bonds on the data – bond markets in the world’s major developed economies tend to track each other as many investors switch between them – political risks kept a cap on yields.

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries, which moves inversely to price, touched a fresh four-year high of 2.94 percent in European trade, after data on Wednesday showed consumer prices rose more than expected in the world’s largest economy in January.

This raises the pressure on new Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell to prevent a possible overheating of the economy.

“The inflation data weighed on the U.S. Treasury market, and now you will have fiscal stimulus when the economy is running at full employment,” said Commerzbank strategist Michael Leister, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s $200 billion infrastructure spending plan.

“But in Europe the risks have become a bit more balanced and there’s still some demand for Bunds,” he said.

Though European bond yields have risen sharply since the start of December, this move has lost some steam as concerns around German coalition talks and an upcoming Italian election renewed the bid for “safe haven” bonds.

In addition, while most expect the European Central Bank to reduce extraordinary stimulus sooner rather than later, rate hikes are still a good distance away with a booming European economy yet to leave a lasting mark on inflation.

But while German 10-year government bond yields also rose after the release of the U.S. consumer price data – they were 3 basis points higher at 0.78 percent on Thursday – this was still below the recent 2-1/2 year high of 0.81 percent.

The “transatlantic spread” between U.S. and German 10-year government bond yields opened Thursday at 216 basis points, a level last seen ten months ago.

Most other euro zone government bond yields were also higher by 3-4 bps, partly driven upwards by large bond sales by Spain and France on the day.

AUCTION STATIONS

The move towards higher yields across the euro zone has certainly boosted demand in some quarters, and this was on display on the French and Spanish auctions on Thursday.

France in particular was swamped with demand as investors put in enough orders to cover an 8 billion euro sale of bonds twice over, while Spain also generated strong demand, particularly for its shorter-dated debt.

“I have been watching to see at what point these positive yields on semi-core bonds start attracting international investors, and so for me this France result looks pretty interesting,” said Mizuho strategist Antoine Bouvet.

Spain’s bond auction result was also positive, especially given that Italy and Portugal have already conducted sales this week, he added.

Reuters

U.S Producer Prices Rise in January

U.S. producer prices accelerated in January, boosted by strong gains in the cost of gasoline and healthcare, offering more evidence that inflation pressures were building up.

The report came on the heels of data on Wednesday showing a broad increase in consumer prices in January. The Labor Department said on Thursday its producer price index for final demand rose 0.4 percent last month after being unchanged in December.

In the 12 months through January, the PPI rose 2.7 percent after advancing 2.6 percent in December. A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services jumped 0.4 percent last month. The so-called core PPI edged up 0.1 percent in December.

It rose 2.5 percent in the 12 months through January, the largest increase since August 2014. The core PPI increased 2.3 percent in the 12 months through December.

The PPI report bolsters expectations that inflation will gain steam this year even though its correlation with consumer prices has weakened.

Economists believe that a tightening labor market, weak dollar and fiscal stimulus in the form of a $1.5 trillion tax cut package and increased government spending will lift inflation toward the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target this year.

The U.S. central bank’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, has undershot its target since May 2012.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.

The Fed has forecast three interest rate increases this year, with the first hike expected in March. Most economists are, however, forecasting four rate increases this year because of rising inflation pressures.

FOOD PRICES FALL

Last month, the cost of hospital outpatient care surged 1.0 percent, the largest increase since August 2014, after gaining 0.1 percent in December.

Hospital inpatient care rose 0.3 percent. Overall, the cost of healthcare services shot up 0.7 percent in January. Those costs feed into the core PCE price index.

Wholesale goods prices increased 0.7 percent last month, after nudging up 0.1 percent in December. Gasoline prices, which rose 7.1 percent, accounted for nearly half of the increase in the cost of goods last month.

Wholesale food prices fell for a second straight month, with prices for prepared poultry posting their biggest drop in 14 years and chicken eggs declining by the most since December 2015. Core goods prices rose 0.2 percent for the second consecutive month.

Reuters

US weekly jobless claims rebound from near 45-year lows

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rebounded from a nearly 45-year low last week, but remained below a level that is associated with a tightening labor market.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended Feb. 10, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

Claims fell to 216,000 in mid-January, which was the lowest level since January 1973. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 230,000 in the latest week.

Last week marked the 154th straight week that claims remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is associated with a strong labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was much smaller.

The labor market is near full employment, with the jobless rate at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent. The tighter labor market is starting to exert upward pressure on wage growth, which will over time add to inflation pressures.

The Labor Department said claims for Maine were estimated last week. It also said claims-taking procedures in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands had still not returned to normal, months after the territories were slammed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Last week, the four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 3,500 to 228,500.

The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 15,000 to 1.94 million in the week ended Feb. 3. The four-week moving average of the so-called continuing claims fell 5,750 to 1.94 million.

CNBC.com

Ramaphosa elected president of South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as South Africa’s president in a parliamentary vote on Thursday after scandal-ridden Jacob Zuma reluctantly resigned on orders from the ruling African National Congress.

South Africa’s main stock market index jumped nearly 4 percent, putting it on track for its biggest one-day gain in more than two years as investors welcomed Zuma’s resignation after nine years in office plagued by corruption allegations.

Reuters

Dollar Dives on Confidence, No Support from Fundamentals

Thursday February 15: Five things the markets are talking about

U.S bond yields have backed after an unexpected rise in U.S consumer inflation to its fastest pace in a year – the core’s +1.8% y/y print yesterday was higher than expected, but still below the Fed’s +2% target – making it more likely the Fed will raise interest rates three or more times this year. But, higher U.S rates have not been able to make the U.S dollar more attractive.

The dollar remains under pressure, building on yesterday’s slide in the Euro session, as the market seems to be losing confidence in the long-run state of the U.S economy.

The Dollar Index is down -0.5% and poised to log another three-year low if the decline persists as we head to U.S session open.

Without any new positive U.S demand or supply shocks that could change the landscape for the country’s economy, it’s easy to see the weak dollar story persisting.

For the dollar to rise with Treasury yields, which it has not been doing this year, there needs to be a return in relative confidence over the medium-term U.S.

Also yesterday, January retail sales fell unexpectedly in their biggest drop in 11- months, declining -0.3%, raising new concerns about the U.S economy as a weaker sale print will lead to lower expectations for Q1 GDP growth.

1. Stocks edge higher

The global stock rally is marching ahead as investors take in stride a jump in sovereign yields.

In Japan, the Nikkei posted a solid rise despite a stronger yen (¥106.31). The index ended up +1.5% overnight, after tumbling to a four-month low on Wednesday. The broader Topix advanced +1.0%.

Down-under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rebounded +1.2% as the stock index’s energy component rallied +2.4% to reverse some of this month’s decline.

In a shortened session ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped +2%. Its rise of +5.4% this week has erased +50% of last week’s decline, its biggest fall in a decade.

Note: China, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam markets were all closed.

In Europe, regional indices continue their ascent higher, tracking another positive session in Asia and on Wall Street yesterday. The French CAC is +1% higher following earnings from a host of Index components. The Swiss SMI is underperforming after Nestle reported mixed results.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.8%).

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.9% at 378.0, FTSE +0.7% at 7264, DAX +0.9% at 12455, CAC-40 +1.6% at 5248, IBEX-35 +1.3% at 9808, FTSE MIB +1.1% at 22687, SMI +0.2% at 8924, S&P 500 Futures +0.8%

2. Oil rises on Saudi commitment to withhold output, gold higher

Oil prices have rallied +1% overnight to extend their gains from yesterday’s session, lifted by a weak dollar and Saudi comments that it would rather see an undersupplied market than end a deal with OPEC.

Brent crude futures are at +$64.99 a barrel, up +63c, or +1%, extending Wednesday’s +2.6% climb. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are up +83c, or +1.4%, from Wednesday’s close at +$61.43 a barrel, adding to its +2.4% gain.

Oil markets have got a push from comments by Saudi Arabia, voicing support for output cuts backed by OPEC and other producers including Russia since 2017 in an effort to tighten the market and prop up prices.

OPEC Secretary General Barkindo said that preliminary data for January points to high compliance of cuts by producers.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have edged a tad higher as the dollar weakens and investors’ bank on the precious metal as a hedge against inflation. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,354.34 an ounce and is heading for a fourth consecutive session of gains.

3. Sovereign yields rise

The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries is nudging closer to +3%, continuing its steady advance from last year’s low of +2.01% in September.

Following this weeks U.S inflation data, and the potential implications that it has for the pace of Fed rate increases this year, the market will be closely scrutinize speeches later today by ECB policy makers to see whether the recent market turmoil will convince them to ease off plans to taper their bond purchases.

Note: Fed-fund futures show a +21% chance of at least four interest-rate increases by year-end, compared with +17% earlier this week.

In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has gained +1 bps to +0.77%, the highest in more than two years on the biggest gain in a week.

4. Dollar dives again

The USD remains on the defensive despite higher U.S yields –the currency is usually highly correlated to short-term rates. Market seems to be reacting to concerns over weak U.S policies and/or diverging central bank policies as both the BoJ and ECB could begin tightening monetary policy.

The EUR/USD (€1.2467) probed the upper end this week’s and year range as the pair re-tested the €1.25 handle. Sterling (£1.4042) is a tad higher initially aided by reports that the E.U Commission was looking to ease the Brexit transition conditions. However, the E.U later refuted the reports. The pound is also finding support not only from the dollar’s weakness, but also a perceived higher probability that the current U.K government will serve its full five-year term.

USD/JPY (¥106.69) continues to trade atop of its 15-month lows as the pair probed below ¥106.20 overnight. Japan’s Finance Minister Aso comments that the yen’s strength is not abrupt enough to require intervention supported the yen’s rally.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin (BTC) is moving back toward $10,000, up +6% on the day at +$9,840 – the price had slumped some -70% in the past six weeks.

5. Crisis in the Northern Ireland

U.K PM Theresa May is facing a political crisis in Northern Ireland as the DUP, who are part of the government’s coalition, have stated there was “no prospect” of a power sharing deal and suggested a return to direct rule.

This crisis threatens to throw the Good Friday agreement into jeopardy and would be a significant blow to P.M May’s authority as she attempts to agree to a crucial Brexit deal over the Irish border.

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