Stocks, Dollar Falter as Investors Await Yellen: Markets Wrap
A global rally that sent U.S. benchmarks surging to a fresh round of records stalled as markets turned their attention to Janet Yellen for clues on how quickly she’ll tighten monetary policy amid expected pro-growth measures by the White House. Treasuries steadied, the dollar deepened losses against most peers and U.S. stock futures were dragged lower by a mood of uncertainty before the Federal Reserve Chair’s semi-annual testimony before Congress later today. European stocks snapped a five-day winning streak. The pound was the only major currency to decline against the greenback after U.K. inflation remained below the Bank of England’s 2 percent target.
U.K. Inflation Rate Rises Less Than Expected, Stays Below 2%
U.K. inflation picked up less than economists forecast in January as clothing-store discounts kept the rate from reaching the Bank of England’s target. The increase in the rate to 1.8 percent from 1.6 percent in December fell short of the 1.9 percent estimated in a Bloomberg survey. The pound weakened and traders pared bets on a Bank of England interest-rate hike by the end of 2017. While less than anticipated, inflation is still running at the fastest pace in more than two years. Rising fuel costs coupled with a weaker pound are set to push it above the BOE’s 2 percent goal soon, with some economists forecasting it will hit 3 percent by the end of the year. In a sign of the upward pressure, annual growth in factory input costs surged to the fastest since 2008.
China’s credit growth poses challenge, but tightening seen gradual
Chinese banks kept up a strong pace of lending at the start of the year, even with signs of tightening by the central bank, highlighting the challenge Beijing faces as it tries to deflate asset bubbles without risking a blow to economic activity. January’s new yuan loans were the second-highest on record as banks stepped up lending, indicating policymakers’ efforts to rein in risks have not reduced bank credit being extended to China’s highly-indebted corporate sector. A spike in off-balance sheet lending also showed demand for credit remained strong, while inflation picked up to multi-year highs, though analysts expect any tightening to be gradual as China’s economic recovery is fragile.
Brazil December retail sales drop 2.1 pct from November
Retail sales volumes excluding cars and building materials in Brazil fell 2.1 percent in December from November, the government statistics agency IBGE said on Tuesday. Economists in a Reuters poll expected a decrease of 1.95 percent. Sales fell 4.9 percent from the year-earlier period, compared with expectations for a 4.5 percent drop in the Reuters poll.