Middling US economic data aside, the Fed is keeping its powder dry. For now.
The US Federal Reserve kept interest rates steady on Wednesday, saying it believes the recent slowdown in US growth is likely to prove temporary as it stayed on course for a further increase in short-term interest rates as soon as June.
In a statement, Fed policymakers led by chair Janet Yellen acknowledged that household spending growth had grown “only modestly” lately. They emphasised, however, that the “fundamentals” behind consumption growth remained solid.
That put more spring in the dollar’s step and sapped strength from US Treasuries during Wednesday trading on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 fell 0.1 per cent and the Nasdaq shed 0.4 per cent. Oil prices reversed earlier gains after data showed that stockpiles of US crude fell less than forecast.
In Asia Pacific equities, futures tip the S&P/ASX 200 index to dip 0.1 per cent at the open in Sydney, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is set to climb 0.1 per cent when trading begins. Tokyo’s stock market is off today for Greenery Day; it will also be off on Friday for Children’s Day.
Corporate earnings reports out today include HSBC, National Australia Bank, Tata Communications, Hang Seng Bank, Galaxy Entertainment and SJM Holdings.
The economic calendar for Thursday is no slouch either (all times Hong Kong):
- 07.00: South Korea balance of payments current account balance
- 09.30: Australia trade balance
- 09.45: China Caixin services and composite PMIs
- 11.30: Thailand consumer confidence
- 13.00: India Nikkei services and composite PMIs