Market Overview:  Investors cautiously optimistic ahead of ECB meeting

US stocks recorded marginal gains on Tuesday after pairing big early losses as investors appeared uncertain about the prospects of the monetary stimulus program in Europe. The European Central Bank is expected to announce further measures of monetary expansion to support the euro-zone economy, but investors are concerned that the scope of the measures will not be sufficient to combat deflationary pressures. The dollar strengthened after the International Monetary Fund raised its US growth forecast to 3.6 percent expansion in 2015, from 3.1 percent. Today at 13:00 CET the Mortgage Applications for the week ended January 16 by Mortgage Bank Association will be released in US. And at 14:30 CET the December Building Permits and Housing Starts will be published, the tentative outlook is positive for US dollar as both indicators are expected to grow.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

The European stocks advanced, hitting multi-year highs on expectations the ECB will launch a new phase of monetary stimulus program. Market participants expect the ECB will announce a program of around €500 billion to €750 billion of sovereign bond purchases to revive slowing Eurozone economy. The euro traded near an 11-year low reached last week on anticipation of the launch of the ECB government bond purchases program. Today at 10:30 CET the November Average Weekly Earnings Index, Unemployment Rate and Employment Change will be published in UK. With the average weekly earnings expected to rise and unemployment rate forecast to fall, the tentative outlook is positive for British Pound. The Bank of England minutes are also expected to be released at the same time. As disinflationary pressures have become apparent with data showing falling CPI levels, the minutes may reveal a change in the vote split of the Monetary Policy Committee, where the votes in favor and against a rate hike were split two to seven. If the split disappears reflecting increased dovish stance in favor of waiting longer for an interest hike, this may negatively impact the Pound.

Japan’s Nikkei surged on Tuesday as investor sentiment was buoyed by China’s better-than-expected growth data and expectations of ECB monetary stimulus plan. The yen gained against the dollar, snapping a three-day drop, after Bank of Japan decided not to expand further its monetary stimulus program and keep the pace of monetary base expansion at 80 trillion yen ($679 billion). Instead, it extended for a year two loan schemes aimed at encouraging banks to lend more, expanding one of them by 3 trillion yen. The Nikkei is falling today as investors are taking profits.

Oil prices fell as the IMF cut its global growth outlook and Iraq’s Oil Minister said Iraqi crude production surged to a record 4 million barrels a day and plans are to boost exports further. On the backdrop of falling oil prices, oil companies are reviewing their capital expenditure and shale oil exploration plans. US drillers cut the number of oil rigs in service by 209 since December 5, the steepest six-week decline since Baker Hughes Inc began tracking the data in July 1987. Analysts estimate lower prices will slow the US shale oil output growth in the second half of this year.

Gold futures prices rose above $1,300 for the first time since August on investor concerns over worsened global growth outlook after IMF made steepest cuts in global growth forecasts.

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