ECONOMIC DATA, BOE IN THE SPOTLIGHT ON THURSDAY
A combination of economic data and monetary policy will drive an active schedule for the financial markets on Thursday. With the markets still abuzz from the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates, attention now turns to the Bank of England (BOE).
The BOE’s Monetary Policy Committee will coalesce on Thursday to vote on interest rates, with the official verdict scheduled for 12:00 GMT. Officials are expected to vote unanimously for keeping the benchmark rate at 0.5%.
There are plenty of market-moving events before and after the BOE rate decision. Action begins at 07:45 GMT with reports on French GDP and business sentiment. Fifteen minutes later, Brussels will release the latest current account surplus for the euro area.
IHS Markit will dominate the headlines between 08:00 and 09:00 GMT, as the research institute unveils the latest PMI data for the Eurozone. Services, manufacturing and composite PMI reports are scheduled for Germany, France and the Eurozone. All data sets are preliminary and will cover the month of March.
At 09:00 GMT, the IFO Institute will report on German business sentiment for the month of March. The report is considered an important proxy for underlying business conditions in Europe’s largest economy.
The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics will report on retail sales at 09:30 GMT. Receipts at retail stores are forecast to rise 0.4% in February and 1.3% compared to last year.
Shifting gears to North America, the US Department of Labor will release weekly jobless claims data at 12:30 GMT. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is forecast to decline slightly to 225,000 in the week ended 17 March.
Markit will also release fresh US PMI data covering the manufacturing and services industries. The Kansas City Fed will round out the headlines with a report on regional manufacturing at 15:00 GMT.
The Australian dollar held its ground against the greenback on Thursday despite weaker than expected jobs data. Aussie employment rose by 17,500 for February, as unemployment edged up to 5.6% from 5.5%. Analysts had called for a monthly jobs gain of 20,000 and for unemployment to hold steady. The AUD/USD was last seen at 0.7760.
Europe’s common currency extended its recovery on Thursday, with the EUR/USD adding 0.2% to 1.2364. The pair has swung through volatile ranges in recent days, including a brief stint in the low 1.2200 region. Immediate resistance is located at 1.2414, which is the swing high from 14 March.
Cable’s strong uptrend continued on Thursday, as traders turned their attention to the first BOE meeting in the wake of the latest Brexit transition deal. GBP/USD rose 0.2% to 1.4164. The pair is eyeing resistance at 1.4170. A clean break above this level would lead to 1.4210.