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U.K. and ECB decide, oil tanks, and testimony by fired-FBI chief Comey looms. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.
The U.K. Election and the ECB
Two major events dominate the European calendar Thursday: the U.K. election and the European Central Bank decision. The outcome of the British vote is more in doubt than when the campaign began, but Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to add to her party’s majority in the House of Commons and fend off Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn’s momentum. A myriad of missteps on the campaign trail could weaken May’s standing among members of her party and EU negotiators, even if she prevails. The pound is seen as coming under the most stress if no one party wins a majority. Meanwhile, the ECB is poised to cut inflation forecasts due to a drop-off in energy prices, according to euro-area officials familiar with the matter. This revelation temporarily weighed on the euro Wednesday. The ECB said in a statement that Banco Santander’s rescue of Banco Popular in a forced sale was based on the “significant deterioration” of liquidity.
An unexpected increase in U.S. crude oil and product inventories fueled a massive selloff in West Texas Intermediate Wednesday. Front-month futures fell five percent to below $46 per barrel. Inbound shipments from Saudi Arabia tumbled, but U.S. crude imports from Iraq rose to their highest level in more than five years for the week ending June 2. Though the attempted isolation of Qatar by a Saudi Arabia-led alliance shows no signs of abating, the geopolitical strife has yet to support oil prices.
Fired FBI Director James Comey is due to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 10 a.m. New York time Thursday, with Donald Trump’s allies planning to parry Democrats looking for answers about possible obstruction of justice by the president. In prepared remarks released Wednesday, Comey said Trump asked him to end the FBI probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Intelligence officials who testified before a Senate committee Wednesday declined to say whether Trump asked them to help block any investigation. Ahead of Comey’s testimony, Trump announced he will be nominating former Justice Department official Christopher Wray as FBI director.
The S&P 500 Index broke back into positive territory after the Comey remarks hit the wires to eke out a small gain. Strength in the banks, which came alongside a rise in Treasury yields and the greenback, offset weakness in the energy sector. Measures of implied volatility remain unusually subdued ahead of a jam-packed Thursday of event risk. Nikkei 225 futures are trading higher while S&P/ASX futures are modestly in the red as of 6 a.m. Tokyo time.
Also Coming Up…
Australia’s trade balance is expected to swing to a A$2 billion surplus in April from a A$3.1 billion deficit in March. The final reading of first-quarter growth in Japan is expected to confirm the economy saw its fifth consecutive three-month stretch of expansion, the longest such streak in a decade. Data on Japanese international securities transactions are also slated for release.
What we’ve been reading
This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
- Bill Gross says U.S. assets are at risk levels not seen since pre-crisis.
What Asia’s top hedge fund managers are betting on.
Europe’s bank undertaker passes its first test.
Hong Kong now the priciest Asian city for expats.
Trump’s allies tell him to stop tweeting.
Why BuzzFeed needs to break into TV.
Everyone feels like a fraud at work.