RBS confirm Sir Howard Davies appointment
Having had our choice of economic leaders to listen to earlier in the week, the scarcity of opinions on offer today has given market watchers an eerie sense of quiet.
The corporate arena has done its best to fill this void with the Royal Bank of Scotland confirming that Sir Howard Davies, the ex-FSA head, will be taking over as the bank's chairman. Depending on how damning of the bank's historical actions you are will dictate your opinion as to whether this is shutting the stable door after the horses have already bolted, or the dawn of a new era. Seven consecutive annual losses, the twin issues of an absence in dividend payment and the 79% UK taxpayer stake in the bank continues to diminish the investment appeal of the firm. The market is only too aware that these issues are unlikely to be resolved until after May’s general election.
Any disappointment about RSA’s slow resolution to the firm's Irish exposure will be somewhat mitigated by CEO Stephen Hester as he glances at RBS’s issues.
Mining companies have given up early gains as profit-taking has hit the sector intraday. Even though we have seen a correction in the commodity stocks in the past two months, traders are reluctant to take a long-term view as the outlook is still uncertain.
Poor data leads to muted equity markets
US markets have started the day in a less enthusiastic manner as they continue to digest the feisty comments that came out of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's testimony to the senate house yesterday. Any hopes of cornering her into announcing an early start to interest rate rises looked to have backfired as a staunch defence of her 'wait and see' strategy has been taken by currency traders.
The economic data releases today have also been far from convincing adding to the lackluster attitude of the equity markets.
WTI down 3.5%
Gold's sojourn below $1200 looks to be well behind it as it added $15 in early trading and had threatened to break back above the 100-day moving average.
Oil markets have spent the day falling, with US light crude particularly soft dropping by 3.5% on the day. The recent comments out of a number of OPEC members about growing demand have swiftly been ignored by oil traders more focused on the current market oversupply.
GBP/USD suffers triple-digit drop
After the last two weeks of lethargy currency markets have finally decided to have a move with EUR/USD falling by 150 pips and testing support at $1.1200, the lower end of its recent channel.
Meanwhile, GBP/USD has also had a triple-digit fall breaking back below the 100-DMA and testing the resilience of the $1.5400 level.