Not Much Data to be Released but Lots of Talk by Officials This Monday

March 23, 2015

Friday’s Greek debt talks with creditors did not go as well as hoped.  Weekend press stressed the danger of slip-sliding into Grexit.  The political leaders of Germany (Chancellor Merkel) and Greece (Prime Minister Tsipras) will talk more today.  Time is running low.

Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester delivered a speech on transitioning from the extraordinary to the normal, arguing that explicit guidance on the forward path of interest rates will need to be phased down.  Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fisher and San Francisco Fed President John Williams speak later today.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi also has a public speaking event planned today.

S&P upgraded Hungary’s credit rating and the outlook on Portugal’s.  Fitch reaffirmed its rating for Turkey but downgraded the outlook on Finland.

The dollar was narrowly mixed overnight, slipping by 0.4% against the Australian dollar, 0.3% versus the euro and 0.1% vis-a-vis the yen and Ausie dollar, while firming 0.3% relative to sterling and 0.2% each against the loonie and yuan.  The Swiss franc is unchanged.

Share prices advanced 2.0% in China and 1.0% in Japan.  Other stock movements in the Pacific Rim were muted such as a 0.5% rise in Hong Kong, a 0.3% drop in Australia, a 0.1% uptick in New Zealand and downticks of 0.1% in India, Indonesia, and Singapore.  The South Korean Kospi was unchanged.  In Europe, however, the German Dax fell by 1.3% so far, and share prices are down 0.8% in France, 0.4% in Switzerland, 0.3% in Great Britain and 0.2% in Italy.

The ten-year British gilt yield edged down two basis points.  Sovereign debt yields are unchanged in Japan and Germany.

West Texas Intermediate oil fell by 1.9% to $45.68 per barrel.  Comex gold is 0.2% softer at $1,181.70 per troy ounce.

The Japanese government’s monthly economic assessment was upgraded in March for the first time since last July.  The views on industrial production, corporate profits and consumer confidence improved.

Japanese supermarket sales posted a 12-month decline of just 0.8% in February versus drops of 1.7% in January and 1.8% in December.

According to the quarterly measure of New Zealand consumer sentiment compiled by Westpac, such climbed 2.3% in the first quarter of 2015, its first increase since the initial quarter of last year.

Danish consumer sentiment rose 4.8 points to a reading of 13.9 in March, best since the start of 2006.

But Turkish consumer confidence sank 5.5% this same month to its lowest score since March 2009.

Swiss M3 money growth slowed to 2.3% last month from 2.9% in January.  Swiss National Bank officials recently  reduced the projected path of inflation through 2017 in a substantial way.  The Swiss current account surplus widened 56% to CHF 17.34 billion in 4Q14 from CHF 11.09 billion in the third quarteer.

In contrast, Hong Kong’s current account surplus in the final quarter of 2014, HKD 17.05 billion, was 58% less than in 3Q. 

And Greece’s current account deficit in January of EUR 850 million was similar to its size in December of EUR 870 million.

Singaporean consumer prices posted a marginally smaller 0.3% on-year decline than expected in February after a 0.4% 12-month rate of drop in January.

An interest rate statement from the Bank of Israel is scheduled today. 

U.S. data arrivals today feature existing home sales and the Chicago Fed National Activity Index.  Other scheduled data of note include the CBI British industrial trends survey and the preliminary estimate of eurozone consumer confidence.

Copyright 2015, Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.

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