Daily Market Report - 18/03/2015

German investor confidence rose less than economists predicted in March as uncertainty over Greece’s future in the euro area countered optimism over an improving economic outlook. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research said its index of investor and analyst expectations climbed to 54.8 from 53 in February. While that’s the highest since February 2014 and the fifth month of increases, it fell short of the 59.4 median forecast.

Concerns about the outcome of Greece’s negotiations with its European Union creditors is weighing on sentiment as the stand off threatens to worsen the country’s financial crisis. Even so, German economic growth remains supported by lower oil prices and a weaker euro, just as the European Central Bank’s quantitative-easing program pushes down bond yields and boosts stocks.

ZEW President Clemens Fuest stated that Economic sentiment in Germany remains at a high level. However there is limited progress being made with regard to solving the Ukraine conflict and the sovereign debt crisis in Greece and this has a dampening effect on sentiment.The ZEW's Indicator of Economic Sentiment for the Eurozone has also increased by 9.7 points to a reading of 62.4 points. 

Housing starts slumped in February by the most in four years as bad winter weather in parts of the U.S. prevented builders from initiating new projects.Work began on 897,000 houses at an annualized rate, down 17 percent from January and the fewest in a year. While stronger hiring and low borrowing costs have helped the industry advance, sales remain challenged by limited supply of cheaper homes and sluggish wage growth.

Cheap borrowing costs are keeping homes affordable for some Americans. The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.86 percent in the week ended March 12, according to data from Freddie Mac in McLean, Virginia. That’s below the average 4.26 percent rate since the expansion began in June 2009.

Greater employment opportunities are providing support for the housing industry as well. The economy added 295,000 workers last month, more than forecast, and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent, the lowest in almost seven years. At the same time, weaker income expectations are weighing on consumer confidence, which declined in March to a four-month low.

Key Announcements
GBP – 9:30:Average Earnings Index (Feb)  Expected to rise from 2.1% to 2.2%
GBP – 9:30: Unemployment Claimant Count Change (Feb) Expected to rise from -38.6k to -30.6k
GBP – 9:30: MPC Official Bank Rate Votes expected to be 9-0 to remain unchanged
GBP – 12:30: UK Annual Budget Release
USD – 18:00: US Federal Reserve Monetary policy Statement and press conference
USD – 18:00: US Federal Reserve interest rate decision expected to remain at 0.25%

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