LONDON – World shares crept up on Tuesday while the dollar lost ground as investors awaited further clues on whether the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates this year.
Wall Street was expected to open modestly higher, with a busy day of economic data helping traders fill the gap before an annual gathering of global central bankers in the mountains of Wyoming on Thursday and Friday.
European equities were up 0.75 percent led by mining and banking stocks and after data pointed to the gradual improvement in the region’s economy continuing.
The euro also posted gains as one major bank decided the news had been good enough that the European Central Bank will not need to cut its interest rates any deeper into negative territory, as it had previously expected.
Encouragement came from France, where surprisingly upbeat PMI figures showed the private sector growing at its fastest in 10 months, and from Britain, where export orders hit a 2-year high to confound Brexit doom-mongering.
Germany’s PMI reading also reassured the market, as a combined manufacturing and services sector survey came in comfortably above the line that separates growth from contraction.
“The positive news from today’s PMI has implications for our growth and ECB forecasts,” JP Morgan said flagging that growth could be higher than expected and as it cancelled its rate cut prediction.
In forex markets, the euro firmed to $1.1345, though the dollar was still the central focus as it slipped 0.25 percent to 94.286 against a basket of currencies. The index fell about 1.3 percent last week on what traders perceived as mixed signals from Fed officials.
The attention now is on a speech Fed Chair Janet Yellen is due to give at the annual central bank symposium in Jackson Hole on Friday. Investors still doubt the stars will align for a hike anytime soon, so a hawkish tone from Yellen would challenge that view.
The dollar had drifted as low as 99.91 yen in early European trade and then spent much of the session hovering just above the 100 yen barrier.
New Zealand’s dollar, meanwhile, was up three-quarters of a cent at $0.7323 after the country’s central bank forecast another 35 basis points in possible rate cuts, less than many investors had wagered on.
“The (U.S.) dollar is weakening … due to the general anticipation around Jackson Hole on Friday,” said Saxo bank’s head of FX strategy John Hardy.
“There is also a general reach for yield happening. That was one of the things we saw with (New Zealand central bank governor) Wheeler waving the white flag that he is not going to use easing to try and weaken the currency.”
OIL GIVES GROUND
In commodity markets, oil remained under pressure after shedding 3 percent on Monday amid worries about burgeoning Chinese fuel exports, more Iraqi and Nigerian crude shipments and a rising U.S. oil rig count.
Brent crude had lost 35 cents to $48.81 a barrel ahead of U.S. trading. It hit a two-month high of $51.22 on Friday. U.S. crude futures fell 36 cents to $47.07, after the September contract expired on Monday at $47.05.
In focus later on Tuesday will be the first of this week’s reports on U.S. inventories, which analysts expect will show a decline in crude and gasoline stocks.
Key industrial metal copper also struggled at a six-week low, as recent wobbles from top consumer China’s economy continued to take their toll.
Futures markets were pointing to positive restart for Wall Street having ended little changed on Monday. A busy day of data is on the cards with August PMI figures due alongside housing and Richmond Fed economic surveys.
Overnight in Asian trading, South Korea, Australia and Shanghai all gained, while Japan’s Nikkei went the other way, easing 0.6 percent as the yen ground higher on the dollar.
A survey of Japanese manufacturing activity for August showed output rose for the first time in six months, but the improvement was marginal and investors fixed their focus on the Fed instead.
“The market does seem to be reluctantly acknowledging the chorus of senior Fed speakers who have suggested recently that a 2016 rate hike is still quite probable and September is ‘live’,” wrote analysts at ANZ in a note.
“But in reality, the response has been very muted.”
Indeed, 10-year U.S. Treasury yields ticked up to 1.5577 percent after falling 4 basis points overnight. German Bund yields nudged up as well along with the rest of the euro zone and UK Gilts. [GVD/EUR]
Fed fund futures imply around a 24 percent chance of an easing in September, rising to around 50 percent by December.
A quarter-point hike is not fully priced in until September 2017.