All eyes on Fed, Greece after ECB fires bazooka | Business News

All eyes on Fed, Greece after ECB fires bazooka

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

All eyes on Fed, Greece after ECB fires bazooka.

Investing.com – The dollar slid lower against the safe-haven yen on Friday as weakness in U.S. equities underpinned demand for the Japanese currency, while the broadly weaker euro fell to 16-month lows against the yen.After a series of major announcements by central banks across the globe, a central question for investors has emerged: Do monetary policymakers have less ability to pull out easing as the instrument of last resort?

Clearly in the U.S., the Federal Reserve’s actions have helped to bolster activity, that while still insufficient to drive wage inflation, leaves the nation’s economy in the global driver’s seat. The atmosphere will already be tense as the fallout from Sunday’s snap election in Greece settles and concern has grown in some quarters that central banks, which played such a big part in guiding economies through the financial crisis, are becoming less predictable. In Japan, however, the experiment remains unproven despite green shoots, and a round of bond buying by the European Central Bank will provide a fresh litmus test on an even grander scale. While investors muse over the limitations of monetary policy, national elections in Greece are expected to result in a government bent on renegotiating terms with the European Union.

Now, after Europe mostly dominated the start of the year, attention will turn to the Fed’s rate-setting meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday for any sign that its resolve to start raising interest rates mid-way through the year could be softening. Monday, January 26: December trade data for Japan will be announced, with consensus forecasts among economists predicting a rebound in both imports and exports. Expectations are for the U.S. central bank to stick to its guns despite the turmoil elsewhere, with top Fed officials citing in the past weeks strong U.S. economic momentum and falling unemployment. But questions have been raised due to weak wage growth and five-year low oil prices that have dragged U.S. consumer prices down to their biggest drop in six years in December and heightened deflation fears in Europe. “What we will focus on in January’s statement, which could challenge our view about a June lift-off, are any hints of increased concern that very low headline inflation is putting downward pressure on inflation expectations,” analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note. “Any mention of foreign developments would also be dovish.” In any case, San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said a day after the Swiss central bank stunned markets, and even some policymakers, by lifting the cap on its currency against the euro that the Fed’s goal was “to not surprise or disrupt markets.” Central bank policy meetings in countries including Russia, South Africa, Israel, Sweden and Turkey will also try to tackle tumbling oil prices and the aftermath of the ECB’s quantitative easing plan, which sent the euro to an eleven-year low. Expectations had been building ahead of the ECB meeting after official figures showed that the annual rate of inflation in the euro area fell into negative territory in December, dropping 0.2%.

In Europe, German IFO sentiment data, collected from business leaders, will be released with expectations for sentiment to improve in anticipation of ECB easing. The Bank of Japan held off from announcing fresh easing measures earlier in the week, despite cutting its inflation forecast for the year from April 2015, a move that reinforced expectations for further stimulus. Although around 90 percent of Greek debt is now held by official creditors, largely limiting the possible contagion from any fresh instability there, the country whose debt crisis once threatened the euro’s survival still carries risks. “We believe in the efficacy of QE,” JP Morgan analyst David Mackie said. “But, for now, we are not lifting our (euro area) GDP forecast in the face of potential new headwinds from political uncertainty in Greece and the much deeper recession in Russia.” After borrowing rates for euro zone countries fell to record lows on Friday, data throughout the week will give more news on the sluggish health of the currency area and the challenge facing the ECB’s QE plan.

November Case-Shiller data for major markets and monthly new home sales estimates from the Census Bureau will help bring real estate prices into focus. The BoJ is to publish the minutes of its latest policy meeting, which contain valuable insights into economic conditions from the bank’s perspective. The Federal Reserve is to announce its benchmark interest rate and publish its rate statement, which outlines economic conditions and the factors affecting the monetary policy decision. The U.S. is to round up the week with preliminary data on fourth quarter growth as well as reports on business activity in the Chicago region and revised data on consumer sentiment. Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement stands to be a primary narrative for equity markets, with expectations riding high on the back of sales for the iPhone 6.

They have more than halved since June but the Brent closed up on Friday at $48.79 a barrel, with the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah adding to uncertainty over the plans of the world’s biggest crude exporter. On a day full of earnings releases, the Wynn Resorts announcement stands out, as a crackdown on high rollers in Macau leaves gaming investors worried about the sector’s fastest-growth market.

Thursday, January 29: December retail sales for Japan and external trade prices for Australia will be the primary economic releases in the Asia-Pacific region. Private-sector lending data for December as estimated by the ECB stands to provide insight into how much of the liquidity provided to markets by the euro zone’s central bank is actually passing into the hands of commercial borrowers. Among the many earnings releases on Thursday the NASDAQ OMX Group announcement will be of note as a bellwether of increased volatility and volume during the final quarter of 2014.

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