Chinese markets returned from a week-long Lunar New Year holiday as the Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.7%/ There is an overall disappointment regarding Chinese monetary and fiscal policy. The markets were expecting easing in China during the Chinese New Year which did not occur
Asian sentiment were concerns about Europe ahead of a leaders’ summit in Brussels later Monday, as questions surrounded Greek finances.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average dropped0.6% today, while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.8%, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4%
European concerns, a lack of easing measures over the holiday, and comments by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao vowing to tackle irregularities surrounding local-government debt all helped send banks lower in Hong Kong and weakened Asian currencies and exchanges.
The dollar index on Monday regained a fraction of ground lost the previous week, although some analysts warned of possible risks ahead for the USD.
The ICE dollar index fell 1.7% last week after the FOMC said that it could keep interest rates at low levels until late 2014. The Fed had previously said that rates would stay low until the middle of 2013. The index rose by 0.27% at 79.16
This is a important week for U.S. data releases, and in turn, the U.S. dollar. Important economic data including January payrolls, ISM manufacturing confidence and consumer confidence readings are on tap throughout the week.
Earlier this week the main focus will be on the EU review of the Greek settlement with their creditors. Angela Merkel and other German officials have thrown a monkey in the works, asking for an EU commissioner to be assigned to control Greek finances. Greece is opposed to this, Germany might push to have it included as part of the bailout package.
Crude Oil is also rising on Iran’s new tactics, to use economic rhetoric as opposed to military. Over the weekend Iranian officials indicated that if the oil embargo goes into effect they will push oil prices up to the $120-150 level, but the West views this as non sense, as the China and India, who will be the prime customers of Iran, will push Iran to lower prices.