Dollar slides, Meta soars, ECB, BoE meet

© Reuters. By Geoffrey Smith — The dollar falls to a nine-month low and Treasury yields ease after the Federal Reserve signals the end is near for the current rate hiking cycle. The European Central Bank and Bank of England are due to play catch-up later, raising their key rates by 50 basis points each. Facebook owner Meta Platforms stock surges after Mark Zuckerberg signaled a pivot of his own – back to making profits and away from expensive bets on the Metaverse. Apple, Amazon and Alphabet are all due to report their earnings after the close. And oil falls to a three-week low after another big rise in US inventories signals weakening demand. Here’s what you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, 2nd February. 1. Dollar, Treasury yields fall as Fed signals an end to tightening The dollar fell to a nine-month low and US Treasury yields slid after the Federal Reserve signaled an end to its policy tightening cycle. The Fed raised the target range for fed funds by to 4.50%-4.75% and Chair Jerome Powell still said it was “premature” to declare victory over inflation, but acknowledged that a “disinflationary trend” has started. The fell to a low of 100.675 before recovering, while yields fell as low as 4.09%. In contrast to the dollar, however, 2-year yields didn’t make a new low. With the Fed out of the way, the market can look forward to more labor market data with at 08:30 ET (13:30 GMT) and the January labor market report on Friday. There will also be and data at 08:30 ET, which will provide a cross-check to a worryingly weak survey published on Wednesday. 2. ECB, BoE set to hike by 50 bps each The central bank action shifts to Europe, with both the and the expected to raise their key interest rates by 50 basis points, despite signs of economic stagnation (or worse) in data released earlier this week. German trade data released Thursday morning were particularly poor, with falling over 6% on the month in December. The ECB has nevertheless more or less committed itself to two more hikes of 50 basis points, so there will be limits to how much flexibility President Christine Lagarde can show in her press conference at 08:15 ET. The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee is also likely to be split again, with a growing number of dissenters arguing that it will fall naturally as the UK economy contracts this year. The BoE’s decision is due at 07:00 ET, with Governor Andrew Bailey speaking at 09:15 ET. 3. Meta sparkles with pivot back to profitability; Big Tech earnings due later The day’s big highlights in the US are due after the closing bell, with earnings updates from Apple (NASDAQ:), Amazon (NASDAQ:) and Google owner Alphabet (NASDAQ:). The latter in particular will make for interesting reading after Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:), its big rival in the online advertising market, reported a surprisingly strong outlook for 2023 despite the uncertain macroeconomic outlook. French ad group Publicis (EPA:) also rose in European trading after a strong update. Facebook owner Meta is emerging in premarket after CEO Mark Zuckerberg effectively acknowledged that his shareholders could think of better things to do with their money than pay him to throw it at wild bets on the Metaverse. It will buy another $40 billion in stock back and also slash its spending in an effort to improve shareholder returns. 4. Stocks set to open mostly higher; Big Pharma reports to continue US stock markets are set to open mostly higher, with tech outperforming after a Meta update that banished unpleasant memories of Snap’s (NYSE:) warning the previous evening. By 05:55 ET, they were down 55 points, or 0.2%, but were up 0.2% and tech-heavy were up 1.3%. There’s also some early earnings action, with drugmakers Eli Lilly (NYSE:), Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE:) and Merck (NYSE:) up first, followed by ConocoPhillips (NYSE:), Honeywell (NASDAQ:), Becton Dickinson and Company (NYSE:), Air Products (NYSE:), Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE:) and Hershey (NYSE:). 5. Oil hits three-week low after another rise in US inventories Crude oil prices are in the doldrums after the US government confirmed a big rise in inventories last week, pointing ever more clearly to weakening demand in the world’s biggest consumer. Gasoline inventories, a good indicator of final demand, rose by more than expected for the fourth week in a row. US commercial crude inventories are now 3% above their five-year average and are at their highest level since June 2021. By 05:55 ET, futures had weakly rebounded 0.1% from overnight lows to be at $76.47 a barrel, while was down 0.1 % at $82.75, both contracts near their lowest in three weeks.

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