Caution continues

The cautious tone in risk assets was maintained at the turn of this week as equity markets slipped further overnight in the US and recorded mixed performances in Asia. While the rise in risk aversion is unlikely to reflect a major change in market sentiment, it does highlight that risk assets will not repeat the one sided moves recorded in Q4 last year over coming months. US equity valuations for example look far richer compared to historical valuations while earnings expectations are softer, suggesting that equity momentum may not be as robust.

Ahead of the key data and events this week including European Central Bank and Bank of England policy decisions and the US employment report, caution is likely to prevail. Highlights today include flash December Eurozone CPI inflation data, which is likely to show inflation pressures remaining subdued, German December employment data and the US November trade balance.

Disappointing US non manufacturing confidence data released yesterday (53.0 for the ISM non manufacturing survey against expectations of 54.7) has taken the wind out of the USD’s sails although most major currencies look set to gyrate in relatively tight ranges over the near term. JPY will find some support from a generally softer risk tone that has filtered through markets and may struggle to retake the 105 level.

Meanwhile EUR/USD has failed to hold onto recent gains, with sentiment turning less positive as indicated by the latest CFTC IMM data on speculative positioning. Likely soft Eurozone inflation data to be released today will likely undermine the currency further. However, given that it is unlikely that the ECB will sound any more dovish at this Thursday’s policy meeting the downside for the EUR is set to be limited, with technical support around 1.3525.

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