Mixed economic data from the US led equity indices to close lower for the day, as investors pared risk holdings ahead of the FOMC statement. The Dow 30 index managed to squeeze out a gain of 22.40 points to 17,251.53 (+0.13%), but the S&P 500 index fell 3.71 points up to 2,015.93 (-0.18%) and the Nasdaq fell 21.61 points to 4,728.67 (-0.45%).
US headline retail sales dipped 0.1% in February as expected while core retail sales showed a smaller 0.1% decline compared to the estimated 0.2% drop. US headline PPI showed a 0.2% drop in producer prices as expected and the core PPI stayed flat instead of posting the projected 0.1% uptick. The Empire State manufacturing index saw a large improvement from -16.6 to +0.6 to indicate a return to expansion, outpacing the consensus at -10.3.
In Europe, indices also ended with losses despite strong medium-tier data from the region. The German DAX closed 56.41 points down to 9,933.85 (-0.56%), the French CAC 40 was down 34.60 points to 4,472.63 (-0.75%), and the Euro Stoxx 50 closed 23.76 points lower to 3,068.22 (-0.77%). The London FTSE edged 34.60 points down to 6,139.97 (-0.56%) ahead of today’s UK jobs release, with analysts expecting to see a 8.8K drop in claimants and a small improvement in wage growth.
Asian markets looking mixed ahead of FOMC
Uncertainty is still lingering in the financial markets ahead of the highly-anticipated FOMC statement, as the Fed is set to print its updated growth and inflation forecasts, as well as the dot plot of policymakers’ interest rate expectations. A press conference is also scheduled after the actual announcement, which suggests potential volatility for most of the US trading session.
The Nikkei 225 index is down 65.70 points to 17,051.37 (-0.38%), the S&P ASX 200 index is down 9.92 points to 5,101.50 (-0.19%), and the DJ New Zealand index is down 0.46 points to 214.58 (-0.23%) following New Zealand’s Global Dairy Trade auction which showed a 2.9% fall in dairy prices.
The China A50 index is up 96.20 points to 9,446.81 (+1.02%), the Hang Seng is up 23.23 points to 20,319.00 (+0.15%), and the KOSPI is up 2.51 points to 1,972.48 (+0.13%). Commodities firmed after API reports showed a smaller increase in oil inventories compared to previous weeks, with WTI crude oil up to $36.88/barrel and Brent crude oil advancing to $39.16/barrel.
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