FED Officials Make Public Appearances, Eurozone Awaits PMI Reports

U.S. equities closed the Friday’s session in a mixed note after economic data showed manufacturing output and consumer sentiment beat expectations while industrial production slowed last month. At the close in NYSE, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.10% and the S&P 500 index fell 0.13% while the NASDAQ Composite index marginally added 0.02%.

The University of Michigan on Friday said its consumer sentiment index advanced to 97.6 in March from 95.7 recorded in the previous month. Meanwhile, the Fed announced that manufacturing production increased 0.5 percent last month, rising for a sixth straight month with the biggest back-to-back increase in three years. However, U.S. industrial production was flat in February, well below economists’ expectations for a 0.2% rise.

The dollar plummeted to fresh five-week lows against a basket of six major currencies on Friday, depressed by speculations that Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at a more gradual rate than some investors had previously anticipated.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, recovered to 100.11 in late trade, paring earlier loss which sent the index to the weakest level since February 7 at 99.97. The index stumbled 1.13% overall for the week. The U.S. central bank raised interest rates 0.25% to a range from 0.75%-1% on Wednesday but failed to flag any plan to speed up the pace of monetary tightening.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen reiterated that the pace of rate hikes would be gradual, which means the Fed will stuck to its outlook for two more rate hikes this year and three in 2018.

In the week ahead, a handful of Fed policymakers are due to make public appearances. Opening the week, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans is to give a speech about current economic conditions and monetary policy at the National Association for Business Economics luncheon in New York on Monday. On Tuesday, New York Fed President William Dudley, Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will make public appearances.

After Fed Chair Janet Yellen deliver opening remarks at the Federal Reserve System Community Development Research Conference, in Washington DC on Thursday, Friday will see Chicago Fed’s Evans, New York Fed Chief Dudley and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard deliver comments.

The Euro closed lower on Friday amid renewed concerns over political developments after a poll showed far-right anti-EU leader Marine Le Pen widening her lead over opponent Emmanuel Macron in the first round of France’s presidential elections.

The euro zone is to publish preliminary data on manufacturing and service sector activity for March at on Friday, after France and Germany will release their own PMI reports. Upbeat readings would help mount speculation that the European Central Bank might raise rate before its asset purchase program has come to an end.

Sterling, on the other hand, advanced versus the dollar, pushing the pair GBP/USD 0.31% higher. British Pound remained supported after the Bank of England’s meeting on Thursday showed the monetary policy committee was split on the decision for the first time in more than a year.

On Tuesday, the U.K. Office for National Statistics will release data on consumer price inflation for February which is expected to rise 2.1%, after increasing 1.8% a month earlier. On Thursday, the ONS is to produce a report on February retail sales, with analysts expecting an increase of 0.4%, following a drop of 0.3% in the preceding month.

USDCAD reversed lower last week as crude futures prices were supported after U.S. crude inventories dipped for the first time in nine weeks.

Canada is to release January retail sales figures on Tuesday, amid expectations for a gain of 1%, following a 0.5% decline in December. Core sales are forecast to climb 1.2%, after falling 0.3% a month earlier.

On Friday, Canada is to publish data on February consumer price inflation which is expected to increase 0.2% last month, after rising 0.9% a month earlier. On a yearly base, CPI is projected to climb 2.1%.


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