Stock markets mixed as traders wait on Fed

Share Markets:

Stock markets were mixed with little clear direction.

Markets are awaiting Fed Chair Yellen's testimony due tonight.

The Greek deal continued to boost equity markets in Europe, but shares in the US were slightly weaker.

Falling oil prices weighed on energy stocks, while the run of economic data overnight was disappointing.

Interest Rates: 

US treasury yields fell, suggesting that markets are positioning for a dovish slant to Yellen's testimony.

Weak economic data likely helped keep yields down. The yield on 10-year treasury bonds dropped 5 basis points to 2.06%.

Yields on Australian bond futures similarly fell. 

The yield on 10-year bonds fell 5 basis points to 2.50%, and 3-year bond yields slipped 2 basis points to 1.84%.

Foreign Exchange:

The US dollar index edged slightly higher overnight. Meanwhile, the euro slipped as German business confidence disappointed.

The Australian dollar weakened in step with the stronger US dollar and the more risk averse mood. AUD settled at around 78 US cents this morning.

Commodities:

Oil prices dropped on further worries on global supply. Gold edged slightly higher from a 7-week low.

Australia: 

No domestic data to report.

Europe:

The German IFO business climate index edged higher from 106.7 to 106.8 in February, but was below the expectations of 107.7. Concerns regarding Greece might have contributed.

United States:

US existing home sales fell by 4.9% in January, a larger fall than the -1.8% median estimate. The level of sales was its lowest in nine months.

The recovery in the US housing market has been uneven, but the stronger labour market should support housing demand.

The Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index fell to -11.2, below the consensus estimate of -4.0. The downturn likely reflects the region's exposure to the oil industry.

Fed President Lacker said that June was the "attractive option" to hike rates.

Lacker also said that keeping the "patient" guidance wouldn't preclude April or June "liftoff" but also that removing patient wouldn't guarantee June.

He said that the Fed does not need to wait for wage inflation before hiking, which was not a good predictor of general price pressures.

Lacker is considered a "hawk" and is currently a voting member.



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