Monday 20th November 2017
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A speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and minutes from the latest central bank meeting might offer clues on the pace of interest rate increases next year in a week shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday, which is followed by Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days in the US.
US financial markets will be closed on Thursday and will be open for only part of Friday.
Yellen is set to speak in New York on Tuesday, a day before minutes of the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released. Both will be scrutinised for any clues on the pace of rate hikes next year as investors firmly anticipate an increase next month.
“We expect her to continue to push for a gradual normalisation of Fed policy in the context of expecting a gradual rise in inflation toward target,” TD Securities said in a note. “This would be neutral for markets, which are priced over 95 percent for a December hike. Anything that suggests a dovish change in view would be a significant surprise to markets.”
Wall Street’s rush for record highs eased in the last couple of weeks. Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3 percent, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.1 percent. However, the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.5 percent; it set a record closing high on Thursday.
Investors are also scrutinising clues the Trump administration will be able to fulfill its promise on tax reform.
“Attention will focus on the Senate for signs that they are progressing towards a vote on their version of the tax bill,” Capital Economics economist Matthew Pointon said in a note.
A majority of economists in a Reuters poll said US Republicans are not expected to push major tax cuts through Congress this year. The economists polled were in any case sceptical that the legislation would provide a significant boost to the economy, according to Reuters.
The latest US economic data slated for release in the coming days include reports on leading indicators, due today; Chicago Fed national activity index, and existing home sales, due Tuesday; durable goods orders, weekly jobless claims, and consumer sentiment, due Wednesday; and PMI composite, due Friday.
Investors will focus on retailers’ stocks at the start of the holiday shopping season on Black Friday.
"As usual, we expect Walmart to largely set the tone on multiple fronts and in multiple categories for the holiday season," Moody's retail analyst Charlie O'Shea wrote in a note to clients, CNBC reported.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended on Friday with a 0.3 percent decline from the previous day’s close.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond suggested the UK will present a proposal to the European Union for a financial settlement before a key summit of the bloc’s leaders next month, adding to signs that London is mulling potential concessions to break the deadlock in Brexit negotiations, Bloomberg reported.
“We will make our proposals to the European Union in time for the council. I am sure about that,” Hammond said in an interview with the BBC on Sunday, according to Bloomberg. Asked if time was running out for the UK to make an improved offer on the exit bill, he replied that “the council is three weeks, so, yes.”
On Wednesday Hammond is set to announce the country’s budget for 2018.
“The Chancellor is in an unenviable position heading into the budget,” Mark Gregory, chief UK economist at accountancy firm EY, wrote in a note, Reuters reported. “Given the major uncertainties facing the economy centred on Brexit, the Chancellor is reportedly concerned that investor confidence in the UK could be seriously damaged if he abandons the fiscal framework adopted only a year ago.”
“However if he maintains his fiscal stance, the UK economy will be facing both monetary and fiscal tightening at the same time as growth slows—a potentially unappetising cocktail,” Gregory noted.
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