US index futures are once again pointing toward a moderately positive open for the North American trading day with gains of 0.2% to 0.4%. Meanwhile, European indices are essentially steady trading between -0.2% and +0.2%. Commodities are also mixed today with copper climbing 0.7% but WTI crude oil sliding 0.3% and natural gas continuing this weeks’ plunge with a 2.6% drop.
The US dollar continues to weaken relative to the Euro and Pound, the Loonie is steady consolidating yesterday’s gains, and gold is still refusing to take advantage of US Dollar weakness indicating that investor confidence remains high and interest in haven assets remains low. Three central bank meetings (Bank of Canada, European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan) over the last 24 hours all had similar messaging. Although the short-term outlook for their economies remains challenging amid the latest round of lockdowns, central bankers are also seeing the potential for recovery as the year progresses as vaccine rollouts accelerate and economies reopen. Because of this while central bankers remain committed to their current emergency stimulus programs (low interest rates and asset purchases), none seemed ready to hit the panic button and add more stimulus.
Its Day 2 of the Biden Administration, and the focus for new executive orders appears to be on fighting COVID with 10 new executive orders planned related to improving vaccine distribution and accelerating manufacturing of masks, and medical equipment. Meanwhile over in the Senate, the focus is on confirmation hearings for the Biden cabinet with one approval done and a vote on Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen expected tomorrow.
In US economic news, initial jobless claims (900K vs street 910K), continuing claims (5.0M vs street 5.4M), and housing starts (1.66M vs street 1.56M), and the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey (26.5 vs street 12.0) all exceeded expectations.
Earnings continue to roll out this morning headlined by strong results from insurer Travelers ($4.91 vs street $3.18), and worse than expected losses from United Airlines (-$7.00 vs street -$6.60). After the close today, results are due from IBM, Intel and Union Pacific.