Eurozone finance ministers meet later today to see whether an agreement can be reached to secure the Greek government funding beyond the cessation of their current bailout program which expires at the end of February. Greece released a formal request to extend funding overnight that was flatly rejected by German authorities. Despite this, on a scale of probabilities, it appears that both sides are moving towards a compromised deal, hopefully as soon as this evening. For those who are interested Reuters has a good write-up here.
US initial jobless claims fell heavily last week, dropping 21k to 283k. The reading was below expectations for a decline to 293k and left the series 4-week average at 283.25k, the lowest level seen since early November.
Manufacturing conditions across Philadelphia and surrounds improved at a slower pace in February with the Philadelphia Fed business index dropping to 5.2. The reading, below the 6.3 level of January and forecasts for an increase to 9.3, was the lowest level seen since February 2014. Improved readings for capital expenditure and employment were overshadowed by deterioration in new orders, prices paid and the 6-month activity outlook.
US economic growth is expected to moderate over the next six months, at least according to the Conference Board, with their latest leading index rising 0.2% in February. While an increase, the reading was lower than both the 0.4% gain of January and forecasts for an increase of 0.3%.
US crude inventories rose by 7.716m barrels last week, double expectations for an increase of 3.233m, with total stockpiles now standing at 425.64m barrels.
Eurozone consumer confidence improved in February with the European Commission’s flash estimate rising to -6.7. The figure was higher than the -8.5 level of January and expectations for an increase to -7.5 and left the index at the highest level seen since June last year.
French consumer prices fell by 1.1% in January, larger than the initial estimate of 1.0% released earlier in the month, with the reading the sharpest monthly decline seen in the 25-year history of the survey. The plunge left the annual rate at -0.4%, the fastest pace of deflation seen since August 2009. In what is becoming a familiar theme a 7.1% drop in energy prices was largely behind the mammoth monthly decline.
UK factory orders climbed in February with the CBI’s order balance jumping to +10. The reading, above the +4 level of January and expectations for an increase to +6, was the highest level seen since August 2014. 26% of firms reported above average order volumes while 16% reported falls, an outcome that led the overall balance to increase to +10. In a sign firms expect order growth to strengthen the separate output expectations balance rose to +25 from +13 in January, a level last seen in September 2014.
The Day Ahead (AEDT)
China, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea remain closed for Lunar New Year celebrations.
The ASX 200 looks set to inch higher this morning with SPI futures pointing to a rise of 5pts on the open.
The AUDUSD has softened overnight with the pair currently fetching .7785. With no major data scheduled across the region another day of range trading is favoured. Support kicks in at .7780, .7750 and .7720 with resistance located at .7825, .7840 and again at .7860
Data releases this evening include flash manufacturing PMI from the States, Canadian retail sales, flash services and manufacturing PMI readings from the Eurozone, Germany and France, Italian industrial orders and CPI, German producer prices along with UK retail sales. As mentioned above Eurogroup finance ministers also meet this evening.