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MacKlow-Smith, Schmieding on Markets and the Fed

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Markets fall, it’s GDP day in Europe, and Trump’s State of the Union address due. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Market nerves

The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yield’s rise above 2.7 percent for the first time since 2014 yesterday sent some nervousness into global equity markets. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index following U.S. stocks lower, slipping 1.2 percent while Japan’s Topix index closed down 1.2 percent. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.5 percent at 5:45 a.m. Eastern Time, with energy and financial stocks among the biggest losers. S&P 500 futures pointed to a lower open, the 10-year Treasury yield had recovered to 2.688 percent and gold was slightly higher. 

GDP day 

The euro-area economy expanded 0.6 percent in the three months through December 2017, as the common-currency area grew for a 19th straight quarter. That gives an annual clip of 2.5 percent, beating forecasts of both economists surveyed by Bloomberg and those of the European Central Bank. On a national level both France and Spain reported strong year-end performances, with the latter shaking off the fallout from the Catalan crisis to record a 0.7 percent expansion in the quarter. 

State of the Union

At 9:00 p.m. President Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address to Congress. He is expected to promote his tax overhaul and highlight how he feels he is making the economy great. White House officials have said the president will seek to reach across the aisle to Democrats with his speech, as his legislative agenda will likely need more bipartisan support coming into mid-term elections this year that may see a reversal of Republican control in Congress. 

Naming names

The U.S. Treasury has made a list of Russian oligarchs, but they don’t seem to have quite figured out who is naughty or nice, making clear the roster does not amount to a sanctions list. The 96 tycoons matched the list of billionaires published by the Russian edition of Forbes magazine last year. Elsewhere in Washington, a House committee voted Monday to seek White House clearance to release a memo alleging bias against people surrounding President Trump, while also voting to open an investigation of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Brexit memo

Government economic forecasts on the effect of Brexit on the U.K. economy show that growth would be hurt under every scenario modeled. The documents, which were leaked to BuzzFeed despite efforts to keep them secret, show that a hard Brexit would leave the economy 8 percent smaller in 15 years time than would otherwise be the case. In the short term, the U.K. consumer is showing continuing resilience, with sentiment rising to 108.2 in January, according to figures published this morning. The recent rise in the value of sterling may also provide some relief for Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, with Dan Hanson at Bloomberg Economics calculating that the 3 percent rise in the currency’s trade-weighted level since the bank’s November forecast will knock 0.2 percentage points off future inflation forecasts.

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