Equity markets tread water

European indices are trading flat with a bent to downside this morning, unable to grapple direction as the imminent US debt ceiling negotiations cap risk appetite.

By contrast, the US indices are trading marginally flat ahead of key macro data this afternoon. Given how important the unemployment metric is to the US monetary policy, the unemployment claims have taken on a distinct priority in the macro calendar. Expectations are for a rise on last week’s claims from 309,000 to 319,000.

New home sales stepped up last month, jumping 7.9% in August. This was however, the second lowest all year, just ahead of July. The jump in borrowing costs may be starting to impact. The pending home sales data due at 3pm (London time) could give a clue to the health of the rebound. As it is released a week later than existing home sales, it’s seen as a more forward-looking number. The July release was well off the estimates for a 0.2% gain, posting a decline of -1.3%. This month the consensus is a yet another decline of -0.9%.

US Federal Reserve member Jeremy Stein will speak later this afternoon. He tends to lean towards the dovish end of the spectrum so his comments will be of interest given the ‘no taper’ decision recently.

In the US, the Dow is up 17 points at 15,300.

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