Firm gains in Wall Street and increasing crude prices were not enough for equities in the region to maintain a significant gain and we saw mixed closes. The Nikkei 225 finished lower at 0.2% after experiencing choppy trade mid-session as the JPY strengthened. The ASX 200 made gains of 0.2% and the Shanghai Comp failed to hold onto early gains, closing lower by 0.8%.
The JPY strengthened heavily in the session despite BoJ`s Gov Kuroda`s dovish comments in which he sighted the exchange rate as an issue and yet again threatened that action may be taken. It appears that traders are playing chicken with the BOJ, driving the JPY higher until the BOJ has no choice but to act.
The expected data out of the region today comes out of Japan where we see the release of the Current Account and Consumer confidence being released, expected at 1.57T and 40.5 respectively.
US stocks closed the session higher as the FOMC minutes from March 15th and 16thwere being digested. The overall report, showed that several members were against a raise of rates in April, sighting rising global risks as cause for caution and prudence with regards to tightening monetary policy too soon. However, some member were more hawkish and stated that they liked the resilience shown by the US economy and if no rate hike was to take place in April then they would vote for one in March.
The overall dovish comments saw the USD weaken against its counter parts as markets begin to realise that the Fed might have acted too rash in increasing rates in DEC 2015 and that there are various risks which need to be addressed first. As we said, equity traders took the dovish comments as a sign of loose monetary policy for longer and celebrated by buying stock with cheap money. The DJIA finished up 0.65%, the S&P 500 finished up 1.05% and the NASDAQ 100 finished up 1.63%.
Data out of the US today comes in the form of the Unemployment Claims which are expected at 271K, a marginal change from the previous print of 276K.
Crude extended on its gains overnight following the unexpected draw down in DOE Inventories which showed the inventories to have dropped 4.9M vs the expected increase of 3.1M. The draw down has markets pricing in that supply might indeed be decreasing and we have since seen the price of crude increase by over 8%.