A sea of green
The benefits of QE
Someone has paid Kevin Abosch, a photographer, $1.5 million for "Potato #345". It is one of many (≥345?) potato photographs taken by Mr Abosch over the years. One can but marvel at the valuable trickle-down effect of quantitative easing cash into the hands of impoverished artists. And vulnerable stock markets.
It is impossible to be sure of cause and effect but it is uncanny how the hints of increased stimulus from the European Central Bank (perhaps March) and the Bank of Japan (conceivably as soon as Friday) were followed by a wholesale recovery of equity prices and an exodus from the safe-haven currencies. The yen fell by -1.4% between Thursday and Friday and by another -1% over the weekend: the euro lost a net -1.5% over the same period.
A rebound in the price of oil contributed to higher prices for commodity- and energy-related currencies. The Canadian dollar and South African rand both added at least 1.7%, the Australian dollar picked up 1% and the Kiwi is up by 0.6%, a cent and a quarter. Norway's oil-influenced krone has rallied by 1.1% since Thursday morning.
Some fairly hardcore economic data were released on Friday and early this morning. Several of them were at odds with analysts' forecasts and it was intriguing to see the inconsistent way in which investors treated them.
First up on Friday were the provisional purchasing managers' index readings from Euroland. With the exception of the French services sector every one of them was lower on the month, below forecast or both. The combination sent the euro lower. Then Britain delivered an even worse set of retail sales figures than pessimistic investors had bargained for. Sterling was hardly affected because of a Wall Street Journal interview that quoted Mark Carney as being unworried about the economic outlook.
When the Canadian figures came out after lunch investors paid more attention to the robust retail sales than they did to below-forecast inflation readings. The Loonie was the day's winner, beating the rand by a nose. This morning nobody could have cared less that Japanese exports fell -8% in 2015 while imports were down by -18%.
Steady as she goes
Today's agenda is thinly-populated by ecostats of mostly minimal importance. There is nothing on the schedule with any obvious potential to upend the risk-on mood that took hold of the market at the end of last week.
NAB's Australian business confidence came in overnight a tad softer on the month and IFO's survey of German companies could lean in the same direction. Italy reports this morning on industrial and retail sales and December's trade surplus. Before lunch the CBI reveals the state of UK industrial orders and the Dallas Fed's manufacturing index winds things up for the day.
At the beginning of last week red prices showed equity markets falling across the board. Today those numbers are green. But it a blip or a recovery?