US Open Note - Will the Fed’s policy decision rattle the markets?

FOMC decision in the spotlight

Markets are on edge as the Federal Reserve’s final policy decision for 2021 will hit the markets today at 19:00 GMT. The 10-year US treasury yield ticked higher ahead of the event, while the US dollar remains relatively unchanged. The central bank is widely expected to announce its plan to dial back its bond-purchases program at a faster pace and signal at least two rate hikes for next year, which could boost Treasury yields and the greenback.

On the data front, producer prices for November witnessed a monthly increase of 0.8% versus the consensus estimate of 0.5%, reinforcing expectations for a faster tapering announcement. However, today’s retail sales figures disappointed slightly, as they rose by 0.3% m/m in November compared to forecasts of 0.9%, suggesting that consumers’ purchasing power may have started to cool off due to the current elevated prices.

Will the pound hold onto today's gains?

The British pound rallied on Wednesday after data showed that UK inflation topped 5% in November. This prompted traders to increase their bets for a BoE rate hike announcement on Thursday. However, the overall consensus remains that the BoE will delay an increase in interest rates due to the new Covid-19 restrictions announced in England that could weigh on the economy, pressuring sterling.

In Europe, ECB sources hinted that the central bank’s new projections to be published tomorrow will show inflation falling back below the 2% target in 2023 and 2024, boosting the case against a future rate hike. The loonie slipped on Wednesday against the euro and the dollar after Canadian inflation data came in line with expectations.

US stocks headed for a muted open

On Tuesday, major US indices finished firmly lower after another hotter-than-expected inflation reading weighed on stocks. Technology shares led the decline, with financials being the only S&P 500 sector closing the day in green. US stocks are headed for a muted open on Wednesday, as investors await the FOMC statement later today.

Europe’s Stoxx 600 index rose on Wednesday after five consecutive days of losses. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Sheng index closed 0.91% lower today, as a range of Chinese data suggested slowing growth due to the ongoing property crisis.

Oil dips; gold steady ahead of FOMC announcement

Oil prices declined for a third consecutive day amid fears over tougher Covid-19 restrictions and comments from the International Energy Agency stating that the global oil market has already returned into surplus. Gold prices remained relatively unchanged on Wednesday ahead of the Fed's announcement. If the bank signals faster rate hikes for 2022, gold prices might face more negative pressures, while a more dovish stance could prove to be the much needed catalyst for the precious metal to gain.

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