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U.S. Markets Tepid Awaiting Yellen’s Speech

Housing and energy data presented markets with nominal directional guidance to start the day, as the main focus continues to be on Janet Yellen’s speech set for Friday.  Existing home sales fell by 3.2% in July, moderately more than analysts’ expectations of a 1.1% decrease, due to low inventory and higher prices.  Nevertheless, the figure generated marginal impact as it came the day after new home sales were released which boasted the highest levels in nearly nine years.  Oil inventories reported a rise in U.S. crude stockpiles by 2.5 million barrels last week compared to a forecasted fall of 850,000 barrels.  Energy markets received further negative news as reports surfaced that Iran may not even attend next month’s OPEC meeting, disputing yesterday’s update that Iran would be fully supportive of a production freeze.  As a result, crude prices shot down initially down more than 3 percent and pushed equities lower.

While developed markets remain in limbo awaiting direction from the Fed later this week, emerging markets experienced turbulence resulting from accelerated security and political risks.  Turkey saw its equity markets plunge after the nation began a military operation in Syria.  Additionally, South Korea’s currency weakened following a missile test from North Korea that was deemed in violation of international law.  On the political front, South Africa’s finance minister is rumored to be arrested and charged within the next few days in connection with a rogue spy unit.  The speculation produced a swift devaluation in the South African rand.  Overall on the day, emerging-market shares posted a 1 percent loss, the largest decline in over a month.   
 
All three major U.S. stock indexes are trading down nearly 0.50% while Treasury yields and swap rates remain flat for the second straight day, holding a 2bp range across the curve.  WTI crude oil currently sits at $46.70 per barrel as Brent crude hovers near $49 per barrel.

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