Asian shares and S&P futures rose on optimism that today's rescheduled U.S. vote on health care will pass following Trump's Ultimatum to the Freedom Caucus. European stocks gave up some of Thursday’s gains, falling for the fourth time in five days, and moving further away from a 15-month high reached a week ago while the yen weakened for the first time in nine days.
European and Asian stocks were modestly in the green, with U.S. futures higher, before a critical procedural vote on a Republican health-care bill to repeal Obamacare, while Janet Yellen is set to speak in Washington at 8:45am.
Financial markets seem convinced that the recent surge in business and consumer confidence in the US economy will soon be reflected in “hard” data, such as GDP growth, business investment, consumption, and wages. But economists and policymakers are not so sure. (To some outside the US, it is an assumption that sometimes looks a lot like blind faith.)
Despite the surge in consumer confidence and exuberance at what lies ahead, real wages for America's average joes declined year-over-year in February (down 0.3%). This is the first consecutive monthly drop in real wages since 2011(which forced Bernanke to to hint at and then unleash QE2 later that year).
In the latest weekly Gallup survey, 48% of Americans say the economy is getting better, and 45% say it is getting worse. That compares with 54% and 39%, respectively, the prior week. As a result, the economic outlook component of Gallup's index fell to +3 from +15.
A pivotal, catalyst-filled week for global markets is now underway as investors brace for the second US interest rate hike in 2 quarter, a Dutch election, the expiration of the US debt ceiling deal, the imminent invoking of Article 50 by Theresa May, the first G20 finance ministers' meeting of the Trump era and perhaps the disclosure of Trump's proposed budget.
If wages disappoint for the second month in a row, then markets may begin to ease back their hiking expectations for the rest of the year. For markets to price out a rate hike in March, wage growth would probably need to slow markedly and the headline NFP number to fall well below 100K.
"The dissonance between what I have been observing and what is being flogged by the establishment mouthpieces in the corporate mainstream media has never been greater. I’m 53 years old. The older I get the less sure I am about things I was sure about when I was 25 years old... I find it exhausting. We’re lost in a blizzard of lies."
Perhaps it is the last hurrah of the Trump post-election euphoria but according to Gallup there were two notable development in February: consumer spending hit the highest since 2008, while economic confidence was the highest on record.
"Inflation will soon become a main concern for investors... this will change the basic relationship between stocks and bonds and could set up the financial markets for severe turmoil, like in the late 1990s when the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management sent shock waves around the globe."