Markets have become more cautious about Mr. Draghi’s now familiar tactic of hinting t at the likelihood of further easing in the lead up to an ECB meeting. This follows disappointment that the ECB did only the minimum expected of it in December. Despite these misgivings, lower oil and commodity prices have increased the probability of further ECB stimulus. Investors may now be a little more cautious about selling equities before the next ECB meeting unless prices rally to improve the balance of risk.
The rally in oil will also help short term market sentiment. Oil bounced neatly off a key chart level on Wednesday and last night’s buying came despite news of another large build in US inventories.
Increased Iranian exports could make the next few months a crunch time for oil markets. However, the risks are not all one way. It’s not impossible that Iranian sales could be lower than expected. There’s also potential for US production to be cut further. Short sellers appear to be covering positions and a price bounce into the low to mid $30’s might better reflect two way risks for oil in the short term.
Last week’s jump in US jobless claims to 293,000 means that markets could become more sensitive to this number in coming weeks. Below 300,000, jobless claims are not a major concern. However, the trend has been rising in recent weeks. Given job losses in the oil industry and softening conditions in manufacturing, any further increase in jobless claims trend will start to create concerns about the durability of strong US jobs growth.