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It's ECB day, the commodity rally is continuing, and Soros warns on Chinese credit. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.
The European Central Bank will announce its latest interest rate decision at 7:45 a.m. Eastern Time today. With 100 percent of economist surveyed by Bloomberg expecting no change, investor interest will focus on ECB President Mario Draghi's press conference beginning 45 minutes later. With doubts remaining over the efficacy of the bank's measures for raising inflation and the euro currency remaining near its strongest level of the year against the U.S. dollar, there is an expectation from some for further dovishness from Draghi. The press conference will be particularly closely watched in Sweden where the Riksbank announced further easing this morning, only to see the kroner react by strengthening against the dollar.
West Texas Intermediate futures are at their highest level since November 2015 this morning, with a barrel of crude for June delivery at $44.20 at 10:53 a.m. London time. Iron ore climbed 3.1 percent to $64.77 a ton while steel rebar futures extended gains, and are now up 54 percent in 2016 as demand from China improves. Other industrial metals were also higher. Precious metals continued their recent rally, with silver adding 1.7 percent this morning to take its gains for the week so far to 7.2 percent.
Soros' China warning
Billionaire George Soros has warned that China's debt-fueled economy resembles the U.S. in 2007-08. "Most of [the] money that banks are supplying is needed to keep bad debts and loss-making enterprises alive," said the investor, who has recently been involved in a war of words with the Chinese government. Soros is not alone in worrying about China, as Andrew Colquhoun, the head of Asia Pacific sovereigns at Fitch Ratings, sees the country's debt-fueled growth threatening to wreak havoc on the financial system. Chinese bond dealers will hope foreign investors will ignore the warning as they will soon get greater access to that country's $5 trillion interbank market.
Stocks slip, bonds drop
Asian markets rose overnight, with gains led by energy companies as the oil price recovered. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 1.2 percent with China's Shanghai Composite Index bucking the trend for a second session by closing 0.7 percent lower. The Asia rally has not fed through to European stocks, with the Stoxx 600 Index 0.6 percent lower at 11:05 a.m. London time, as earnings disappointed and a miss from Ericsson AB pushed that company's stock down 13 percent. S&P 500 futures were flat. Sovereign debt is also dropping, with the yield on the German 10-year bond rising to a four-week high ahead of the ECB decision, closing the spread between that debt and U.S. Treasury notes, which had risen to a monthly high yesterday.
There are a few data points to watch in the U.S. today, with investors likely to keep a close eye on the initial jobless claims number at 8:30 a.m. ET following last week's unexpected decline to a level not seen since 1973. Bloomberg consumer confidence for April is out at 9:45 a.m. and the Leading Index is due at 10:00 a.m.
What we've been reading
This is what's caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- For robo-advisers, the next bear market is make or break.
- Templeton boss: 'Sharp correction' may be coming.
- Shale war damages European gas prices.
- Hedge funds are getting stuffed.
- The $2 trillion plan to get the Saudi economy off oil.
- And Saudi Arabia mulls dual listing for Aramco IPO.
- For Tesla's Model 3 to succeed, everything has to go right.