Markets Diary

Posted on July 24, 2016

A pedestrian walks past the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve building stands in this photograph taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Bill Gross said the Federal Reserve has waited so long to raise interest rates that any move now may be labeled "too little too late" as market turmoil restricts the room for policy makers to act. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg©Bloomberg

Attention shifts squarely to the US next week as investors watch for the latest monetary policy decision from the Federal Reserve, second quarter economic growth figures and the Democratic convention.

After Melania Trump’s speech writer admitted to lifting lines from Michelle Obama and Ted Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump at the Republican convention, investors turn their attention to the Democratic National Convention that gets under way in Philadelphia on Monday.

    Hillary Clinton is expected to accept her party’s nomination for the presidential race on Thursday and delegates are also expected to ratify her pick for vice-president. President Barack Obama is slated to speak on Wednesday.

    Even as US economic data and global financial conditions have improved since the Brexit vote, policymakers at the Federal Reserve are expected to leave interest rates unchanged when they meet. However, the language in the statement is expected to reflect the improved tone of the data as job creation in the US rebounded last month and the so-called Federal Open Market Committee is expected to leave its options open for the timing of the next increase.

    “Markets have recently repriced somewhat higher the chances for rate hikes this year, with around a 25 per cent market-implied probability by September, and just over a 45 per cent probability by December,” Ethan Harris, economist at Bank of America, notes.

    “We would not expect the July FOMC statement to materially change those probabilities, as we do not anticipate any substantive changes: the Fed is still watching the post-Brexit data evolve and should remain cautious overall.”

    And the Fed isn’t the only central bank on investors’ minds. Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda ruled out hopes that the central bank would resort to so-called “helicopter money” — whereby the budget deficit is financed by a permanent increase in the central bank’s monetary base and not via government bonds — in an interview that was recorded in mid-June but aired this week. But it is worth noting the BoJ surprised markets when it opted to adopt negative interest rates earlier this year.

    However, experts have downplayed aggressive easing actions by the BoJ next week. “While we think sizeable fiscal support is impending, we think the BoJ will opt to wait for a concrete budget plan in the coming weeks before easing further in a co-ordinated fashion, likely in the fall,” Mazen Issa at TD Securities said.

    Markets expect to see more signs of improvement in the US economy when second-quarter growth figures are published on Friday. Economists expect GDP rebounded to a 2.6 per cent pace in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year when the economy grew at a 1.1 per cent rate.

    Investors will also get an update on the health of the American consumer and the housing market with consumer sentiment data and new and pending home sales releases.

    Finally, the earnings season steams ahead with nearly 200 companies listed on the S&P 500 slated to report results. Tech companies come into focus with Apple, the world’s largest publicly traded company, Twitter, Amazon.com, and Alphabet all on the agenda.

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