As today’s market analysis goes to print, Mario Draghi takes to the podium to discuss the latest European Central Bank meeting. Earlier today, Mr. Draghi and company left rates unchanged at 0.05% and markets are looking for more clarity on the Quantitative Easing plans that were announced in January. Up to this point, all we know is that the ECB plans to buy â‚¬60 billion in assets per month, beginning this month, but all other details remain vague. The euro touched a new 11-year low ahead of the rate announcement and is current hanging in the balance above the psychologically important $1.10 level as Mr. Draghi address reporters.
The UK also held a policy meeting today as the Bank of England left rates and QE levels unchanged at 0.50% and 375 billion pounds, respectively. The pound, which had been under heavy selling pressure this week, has stabilized ahead of the real fireworks – the ECB. Economic data was limited elsewhere as Italian GDP and Swedish industrial production were announced to little to no fanfare. All eyes will rest on Mr. Draghi as the Eurozone has arrived at an important inflexion point in the wake of last week’s Greek stop-gap announcement. The stability of the region lies on Mr. Draghi’s words in the short term, as investors look for guidance in the short term.
Addressing the National People’s Congress in China, Premier Li Keqiang unveiled a lower growth target and pledged tighter environmental controls as he opened up parliament’s annual session. Premier Li lowered the GDP growth target to 7% and CPI to 3% but claimed his regime is set to create over 10 million new jobs. Elsewhere, PBoC advisors Yulu and Li made comments on the CNY band and monetary policy, at which both advisors pointed at more neutral outlooks for 2015. The Japanese yen sold off a touch to once again surpass the 120 level versus the dollar. Bank of Japan member Kiuchi made comments that the appropriate level for inflation of Japan is now lower than the BoJ’s current 2$ target, hurting the yen.
Turning to North America, the Canadian dollar is still riding high after yesterday’s policy meeting. The Bank of Canada kept rates steady at 0.75% after cutting in January for the first time in five years. Chairman Poloz noted the economy is performing in line with expectations laid out in January and but warned that further rates cuts could be on the horizon. Despite the warnings, the Canadian dollar rallied about 1% is current below the $1.25 level against the US dollar that has acted as a magnet for the last six weeks or so. The BoC meets again April 15th.
In the US, we are one day away from the February jobs report. At 8:30am, the weekly jobless claims for the week ending February 27th will be released, with expectations at 313k. Like its Canadian cousin, the US dollar continues to surge this week, touching its own 11-year high ahead of the today’s ECB meeting. Yesterday’s ADP report showed private-sector employment grew by 212k jobs in February although January’s release was revised lower from its initial 250k. The dollar continues to rise this morning even after the Fed’s beige book showed a stronger dollar combined with depressed oil prices had in fact weighed on export demand in several important factors. Look for ample opportunity today and tomorrow as the ECB and NFP drive markets into what we all hope is the last cold and snowy weekend of the winter that won’t end.