Daily Market Color

US Stocks Rebound Off the Back of Higher Oil and Dovish Fed Comments

US stocks rebounded from a 3-month low buoyed by strong corporate earnings and firmer oil prices, while terror concerns kept Treasuries better bid.  A terrorist attack in Jakarta as well as evacuations at a Sydney opera house and Christchurch airport overshowed a firmer yuan and uptick in German GDP during the overnight session.  At one point WTI crude fell to as low as $29.73/barrel, its lowest level since February 2004, before climbing back above $31.  The UN is expected to confirm that Iran has curtailed its nuclear program as per its agreement with world powers, which would pave the way for Iranian oil to hit the market sooner than expected, adding to the global supply glut.

Speaking this morning, St. Louis Fed President Bullard said the continued rout of global oil markets may have implications for future Fed action.  Fed policymakers have described the fall in oil prices as “transitory” since it began in 2014, but the severity of recent price movement may force Fed officials to reassess.  Bullard, a known hawk and 2016 voter, said further rate hikes may be harder to justify due to a “worrisome” drop in US inflation expectations, which is a direct result of oil’s freefall.  Over time, Bullard believes lower oil will prove to be a “net positive” for the US economy and that four rate hikes in 2016 still seems “about right”.

Today’s US economic data showed an unexpected rise in jobless claims to a seasonally adjusted 284,000, but remained below the 300,000 mark associated with a healthy labor market.  Other data showed import prices fell in December for a sixth straight month, held down by lower oil and a stronger dollar.  Import prices are expected to continue to be a drag on US inflation in early 2016.

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