Asian equities followed Wall Street higher on Thursday, as investors cheered strong quarterly results from corporate America that have taken away the focus from trade jitters, for now at least. Out of the 55 companies that announced results, 87% managed to beat earnings estimates while only 7% missed the mark. With EPS growth exceeding 22% we are obviously heading towards the best earning season in eight years.
Global equity markets were mostly mixed while the Dollar dipped ahead of Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s first Congressional testimony later today. Powell’s testimony could offer investors a fresh opportunity to appraise the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy approach for the second half of 2018. The central bank head is expected to reiterate that the Federal Reserve remains committed to gradual monetary policy tightening.
The U.S. dollar has resumed its rally after starting the first week of July on the back foot when it was hit by profit-taking following a three-month winning streak. Now that the Dollar Index has turned positive on the month could it finish the month of July higher, too? Investors have been piling in on the dollar because of higher interest rates in the United States and expectations that monetary conditions will tighten further in the coming months.
As a reminder for traders who are still a bit groggy after celebrating America’s independence yesterday, the Federal Reserve opted to raise its benchmark interest rate by 25bps to the 1.75-2.00% at its meeting three weeks ago (see “FOMC recap: Hawkish statement and projections, hesitant Powell”).
On Friday, the White House announced 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. As promised, China quickly retaliated imposing 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S goods. They plan to introduce these tariffs in two phases.
It is Fed day and they are expected to raise interest rates a quarter point at 1:00 p.m. Central. What’s unknown though is the tone in which they will do such. There was a report yesterday that Fed Chair Powell wants to hold a press conference after each meeting. The Dollar jumped, Treasuries ticked down and equity markets hit a midday snag. Doing this would essentially make each meeting live, giving the FOMC additional opportunities to hike.
With a rate hike in June considered a done deal, investors may be more concerned with the economic projections and press conference with Fed Chair, Jerome Powell. Markets are poised to closely scrutinize the Fed’s monetary policy statement for clues on how fast the Fed may raise interest rates during the second half of this year.
The mood in financial markets is relatively upbeat at the start of a very busy week, as investors shrug off the G7 meeting that didn’t exactly go to plan as President Donald Trump rejected the prepared communique and left early.
Tuesday’s Core CPI read may not be the event you pay admission for in a week highlighted by a trio of central bank policy meetings and a historic Summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, but it begs to set the tone. In fact, Wednesday’s FOMC Meeting encourages a stronger emphasis on this inflation indicator.
A funny thing happened on the road to Singapore. The Group of 7 joint communique was agreed to by all nations until the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau made a statement after President Trump was on the plane going to try to rid the world of the North Korean regime’s nuclear weapons and said that “U.S. tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around’ set off President Trump and his advisors.