Major U.S. benchmarks grinded forward in the second half yesterday and added gains overnight. Buzz that China offered to add $25 billion in purchases of U.S. goods this year turned a potentially dulling tape back north before the close. The offer comes days after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross left Beijing but also surfaces question marks to the $70 billion in purchases spoken of weeks ago.
Major U.S. benchmarks are holding Monday’s gains and then some this morning after the Nasdaq Composite closed at a record high to start the week. Europe is leading this morning, the DAX is + 0.8% while Asia is muted. Traders want to keep an eye on Europe as Italy’s new PM Conte faces a bit of a confidence vote, though the coalition that appointed him has a majority.
The sentiment was already positive before the release of the US jobs report as Italian bond yields were lower for the third day due to diminished political concerns following the formation of a coalition government there. When the U.S. jobs report was published, this triggered a fresh rally in risk-sensitive assets as investors were relieved to learn the jobs market remained healthy after two months of poor showing.
Most policymakers were optimistic over the economic outlook, and felt it would “soon be appropriate” to raise interest rates if the U.S. outlook remains intact. However, the lack of clarity offered on rate hike timings beyond June simply left most investors empty-handed.
As any Economics 101 student learns, the Federal Reserve is responsible for U.S. monetary policy, including setting the level of interest rates, and more recently, managing the central bank’s vast assets acquired through repeated iterations of Quantitative Easing.
Weening a country, or market, off easy money is tricky, even when it’s done slowly, as the Federal Reserve is doing. The removal of monetary accommodation is not made any easier by protectionist threats and counter threats that complicate the macroeconomic mix, roil markets and tighten financial conditions.
Today’s main event risk for the dollar, and potential market shaker will be the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s meeting, which is widely expected to conclude with monetary policy left unchanged. Although May’s FOMC meeting will not include a press conference or fresh economic projections, investors should not be quick to expect the meeting to be a “non-event.”
There were no obvious triggers behind Tuesday’s bullish reversal; although news that U.S. President Donald Trump had extended the deadline on deciding whether to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies, including the European Union, Mexico and Canada, helped to reduce the threat of a trade war.