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March 4, 2021

Waiting for Jerome Powell’s speech and US Jobs numbers!

Weekly jobless claims increase less than anticipated in America

Weekly jobless claims increase less than anticipated in America

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits increased last week. This was possibly impacted further by winter storms in the densely populated South, an area that is not used to the harsh winter storm that hit it, causing much more damage than it would have in other places like New York, Pennsylvania, or Ohio. Because of this, the numbers may be a bit skewed, but it is worth noting that the initial claims for state unemployment benefits totalled a seasonally adjusted 745,000 for the week ending February 27, compared to 736,000 for the prior week. Most economists expected a reading of 750,000, and although the number is still higher than the worst part of the Great Recession, it was slightly better than anticipated.

The pace of infections in the United States has started to stall, and that could help lead to more hiring. The stimulus bill of $1.9 trillion that is anticipated to be passed by the US government should bring in more hiring, but at this point, we still see massive unemployment in the United States, so there is a long way to go. That being said, the trajectory is starting to turn towards a more positive rate of change.

OPEC+ oil ministers to debate oil output

OPEC+ oil ministers to debate oil output

OPEC, Russia, and other oil producers were meeting all day Thursday to decide whether or not to keep the oil output restrictions going into April, or if they should look to steadily increase supply due to the recent price rally that we have seen around the world. With oil above $60 a barrel, some analysts have predicted that the group of producers will increase output by roughly 500,000 barrels per day and also expect Saudi Arabia to end it partially or perhaps even fully is voluntary reduction of 1 million barrels per day.

However, one sticking point is the fact that there is so much uncertainty going forward due to the coronavirus situation, so there are quite a few analysts out there that believe that April will see no change in supply, but eventually, production will lift some of those restrictions later in summer. The other sticking point that the producing group will have to keep in mind is that as oil stays at levitated pricing, it opens up the door for a flood of US shale to enter the marketplace.

Eurozone retail spending down sharply

Eurozone retail spending down sharply

EU statistics agency Eurostat announced on Thursday that retail sales in the EU were down 5.9% month over month in January, and by 6.4% year on year. Most economists had forecast declines of 1.1% and 1.2%, respectively. Some of the deepest declines were in Austria, Ireland, and Slovakia, where sales had dropped more than 10%. The sharper than anticipated drop in sales is partially blamed upon shuttered stores due to the coronavirus restrictions and a harsh winter in some countries.

In a separate release, Eurostat announced that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.1%, the same as December, which was revised down from the previously reported 8.3% unemployment rate. Overall, the number of people unemployed in the eurozone increase by 8,000 to a total of 13.28 million

Global Equity Markets

Global Equity Markets

Indices around the world were relatively negative, as traders are waiting for the jobs number in America on Friday, and of course, the speech by Jerome Powell that could address the bond situation. Furthermore, we have a lot of concern when it comes to the virus and reopening situation. The FTSE 100 lost ½%, while the DAX lost 21 basis points. The CAC in Paris was essentially unchanged, but the Nikkei 225 has gotten slammed for more than 2% and losses. The S&P 500 was barely changed midday in the United States.

Index Change
FTSE100

FTSE100

-0.50

DAX

DAX

-0.21

CAC40

CAC40

-0.01

Nikkei 225

Nikkei 225

-2.13

S&P 500

S&P 500

0.05

Currencies

Currencies

Currencies were a bit erratic in general, as the Euro lost 15 basis points, while the British pound has gained 28. The US dollar is up over ½% again against the Japanese yen, and what is an obvious trend change for a longer-term move. The Australian dollar also gained over 1/3% during the trading session as we are starting to see more of that stimulus trade come on board. The US dollar continues to be a bit mixed in general, and this causes quite a bit of noise in the Forex markets.

Index Change
EUR/USD

EUR/USD

-0.1512

GBP/USD

GBP/USD

0.2831

USD/JPY

USD/JPY

0.5757

AUD/USD

AUD/USD

0.3731

Commodities

Commodities

Commodity markets were mixed as well, as gold has rallied 12 basis points, while the silver market was down 2/3%. The crude oil markets were up 3.5% as word has gotten out that several members of OPEC are looking at extending reduction cuts into April, and some countries are even believed to be talking about an extension of cuts into the month of May. Copper markets have dropped 2.3% during the trading session on Thursday as well, as the “reflation trade” seems to be a little bit shaken.

Index Change
Gold

Gold

0.12

Silver

Silver

-0.67

WTI Crude

WTI Crude

3.52

Platinum

Platinum

-0.55

Copper

Copper

-2.31

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