June 16, 2017
The Bank of Japan keeps policy unchanged, U.S. political tensions escalate, and Greece gets another lifeline. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
Central bank week
The Bank of Japan left policy unchanged overnight, saying that improving private consumption would support the growing economy. Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, speaking at the post-announcement press conference, said that specific policy exit simulations wouldn’t be appropriate for now. At 6:30 a.m. Eastern Time, the Bank of Russia rounds off a busy week for central banks across the world when it releases its latest monetary policy decision in which it is expected to continue its easing measures.
The expanding probe into the Trump administration, which is now reportedly also looking into the finances and business dealings of adviser Jared Kushner as part of the Russia investigation, is increasing pressure on the U.S. president. In a series of tweets yesterday, President Donald Trump calling the investigation a “witch hunt” and a “phony story.” To add to Trump’s woes, a bipartisan Senate Judiciary Committee is set to launch a probe of his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Euro-area finance ministers agreed to release 8.5 billion euros ($9.5 billion) in new loans for Greece, ensuring the country will be able to make bond payments due in July. The IMF refrained from acknowledging that the deal means the country’s debt is now sustainable, a decision that likely stays the European Central Bank’s hand in adding Greek bonds to its asset purchase program. Sunday sees the second round of France’s parliamentary election in which President Emmanuel Macron’s party is expected to win an clear majority. In the U.K., preparations are underway for the start of Brexit negotiations which will be begin on Monday.
Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index was broadly unchanged, while Japan’s Topix index gained 0.5 percent as the yen weakened in the aftermath of the BOJ decision. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.6 percent higher at 5:44 a.m. with automakers rising after car sales data showed 7.7 percent increase in May. S&P 500 futures rose slightly.
Crude is set for its longest run of weekly declines since 2015 as all signs point to continuing oversupply, with Libya returning to full production and the U.S. surplus going nowhere. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate for July delivery was slightly higher at $44.64 at 5:44 a.m. after trading at its lowest level since November in yesterday’s session. It will be interesting to see of the low prices are starting to feed though to activity in the U.S. shale patch when the Baker Hughes rig count is released at 1:00 p.m.