Daily Market Color

Mixed Global Economic Data Ahead of IMF and Doha Weekend Meetings

US stocks and oil are trading lower while Treasuries are rallying across the curve after mixed global economic data and ahead of Sunday’s oil meeting in Doha.  China released its Q1 GDP data overnight, which was generally better than expected by the market.  China’s GDP figures showed the economy grew 6.7% in Q1, slightly down from the 6.8% pace of Q4 2015, but better than feared it might have fallen.  Despite the slight decline, the data fell within Beijing’s target and was strong enough to indicate the slowdown may be bottoming out.  China also released industrial output, retail sales, and urban fixed asset investment figures for March, all of which widely exceeded market expectations. 

US economic data released was less impressive.  Industrial production fell sharply for the second straight month in March, falling 0.6%, the largest decline since February 2015.  Analysts were expecting a more subtle decline of -0.1%.  The weakness was widespread across industries, led by manufacturing, mining and utilities.  Additionally, factory capacity utilization fell to 74.8% from 75.3% in the month prior.  Capacity utilization of manufacturers specifically, fell to 75.1%, the weakest reading since April 2014.  A separate report showed US consumer sentiment declined to 89.7 from 91.0 last month.  After the recent soft inflation data, the disappointing production data makes the chances of a policy shift as soon as the April FOMC meeting even that much more remote.
Aside from the data, investors will monitor comments on the global economy from central bankers attending the Spring Meetings held today through Sunday in Washington, DC and hosted by the IMF and World Bank.  All three major US stock indexes are currently hovering just below unchanged, while Treasury yields and swap rates are 2-5 bps lower across all major maturities.  Both WTI and Brent crude are down over 3% ahead of one of the most highly anticipated meetings of major oil producers gathered to discuss production freezes at the Doha Summit scheduled for this Sunday.

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