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Stocks and gold to fresh highs as markets await NFP

Vantage Updated Updated Thu, 2024 March 7 09:59


* Powell says Fed is “not far” from confidence needed to cut rates

* ECB rate hold, door slightly open to June rate cut

* Dollar falls to two-month lows, Bitcoin, and bullion to fresh record highs

* Stocks climb on bets Fed, ECB closer to policy easing

FX: USD fell through next major support is 103.09 with a fifth straight day of losses. The next key level is 102.77, the spike low from late January. A better risk mood and stronger euro and yen worked against the buck. All eyes are now on today’s US employment report.

EUR continued higher with ECB President Lagarde mildly more cautious than expected. She dampened speculation of an imminent rate cut and said the ECB isn’t “sufficiently confident” to kick off policy easing. Lower inflation forecasts mean that June is the most likely start point for rate cuts. The next upside target is 1.0976.

GBP neared 1.28 with the top from late December at 1.2828. Markets took the UK Budget in its stride. There could be one more before a UK election. We get UK wage growth next week among the employment data. This is one of the two key metrics used by the MPC.

USD/JPY collapsed, breaking down through 148 at one point. The yen was the best performing major on the day with more speculation that the BoJ could raise interest rates at its next meeting on March 19. Japanese bond yields rose with the chances of a 10bp hike hitting a high of 78% early in the session before falling back.

Both AUD and NZD outperformed again on better risk sentiment. The aussie moved above its 200-day SMA at 0.6560. Resistance above sits at 0.6641. USD/CAD slid below its 200-day SMA at 1.3478.

Stocks: US equities advanced amid rate cut expectations. The broad-based benchmark S&P 500 closed 1.03% higher at 5,157. This was a new record high and the 16th record close of this year. The tech-laden Nasdaq 100 added 1.56% to finish at 18,297. The Dow Jones settled 0.34% up at 38,791. Tech led the gains with semiconductors to the fore. Nvidia climbed to another record high. One broker thinks the stock can hit $1,000.  Intel jumped by 3.7% and was the top performer on the Dow. Apple again closed lower, extending its fall to seven sessions in a row. Broadcom added 4.2% ahead of its earnings, but chip revenue missed estimates even as AI demand grows.

Asian futures are marginally in the green. APAC stocks were mixed on Thursday. The Nikkei climbed to a fresh all-time high but then declined on the hawkish BoJ speculation. The Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite were muted with geopolitics hitting biotech companies.

Gold’s incredible run continued with its seventh straight day of gains. This was last seen in July 2020. More record highs were made, at $2164. Yields retraced some losses but finished lower on the day, while the falling dollar continued to help bugs.

Day Ahead – US Non-Farm Payrolls

Headline non-farm payrolls are seen slowing to around 200,000 from the 353,000 in January. That was accompanied by strong upward revisions to November and December figures. Five of the last six headline prints have beaten expectations, so revisions will again be worth watching.

Average hourly earnings are expected to cool sharply to 0.2% m/m from the January print of 0.6%. That equates to the annual rate falling to 4.3% y/y from 4.5% in January. The jump in the prior monthly print appears to be due to a weather-related distortion. Other labour market data appear to be cooling modestly.  Regional Fed surveys, manufacturing and service sector PMI employment indices and the main US hiring intention survey all point to softer conditions in the months ahead.

Chart of the Day – USD/JPY breaks down

The yen has been strengthening on rising speculation that the BoJ will hike rates at its March meeting a few weeks. The major also has a strong correlation to the US 10-year Treasury yield. This has also been hurting the greenback recently with yield differentials narrowing. The 10-year failed to break above 4.33% recently and fell below 4.10% yesterday.

The Janaury stellar headline payroll figure partially caused the start of the bond yield move off its February lows. A sub-150k print is probably needed this time to push the 10-year yield closer to 4%. That should hit USD/JPY with the 50-day SMA at 147.80.