Stock markets have been mixed overnight and into this morning. The Hang Seng rose 0.9% and US index futures are up 0.25%, but the FTSE, Dax and Nikkei are all flat. Crude oil has rebounded 0.9% on indications Saudi Arabia and Kuwait support extending production cuts, which has taken some of the pressure off energy stocks.
Earnings continue to have a big impact on trading in stocks. So far this earnings season, traders have been reluctant to reward positive results and have been taking profits against earnings news, indicating that the big post-election rally already priced in high expectations. Last night, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), American Express (NYSE:AXP), plus railroads CSX (NASDAQ:CSX) and Canadian Pacific (NYSE:CP) all beat the street while Nestle (DE:NESN) and Unilever (LON:ULVR) posted positive sales on price increases in Europe this morning. Insurer Travellers posted mixed results this morning with a miss on earnings offset by higher premiums written and a dividend increase. Celestica (NYSE:CLS) beat the street by a penny.
Canadian banks and real estate companies may also be active today with the Ontario government expected to announce measures for dealing with the hot Toronto housing and rental markets. Measures are expected to include a tax on foreign speculators and expanded rent controls.
Currency markets remain active. Despite the rally in oil prices, CAD continues to weaken on growing concerns over a potential trade dispute between the US and Canada over the dairy industry. GBP, meanwhile, has resumed rallying with a YouGov election poll showing 48% support for the Conservatives, 24% for Labour and 12% for the Liberal Democrats. EUR, meanwhile also continues to climb heading for Sunday's first round of Presidential voting with centrist Macron holding a small lead among the four contenders running for two spots in the second round.
USD continues to weaken as expectations for an aggressively hawkish Fed fade. Expectations measures from President Trump could be inflationary have eased between difficulties getting reforms passed through Congress and overseas distractions like Syria and North Korea.
The split between strong soft data (PMI, consumer confidence) and weakening hard data (retail sales, manufacturing production) could come into focus again today. The most positive hard data lately has been employment which is a lagging indicator. Today we get the US leading indicator which may indicate where the US economy is heading as we move past President Trump's first hundred days in office. There were no big surprises in yesterday's Beige Book report on regional economies, but today's Philadelphia Fed report could attract attention if it confirms Monday's soft Empire Manufacturing report.
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