Markets across the world were bouncing higher on Wednesday. Economic data released today was better but not quite as good as expected. Investors are waiting for the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates due out around 2:15 p.m. this afternoon. Meanwhile the U.S. dollar is retreating and that's fueling a gain for commodities. Gold futures have soared to another new all-time high with a move over $1,090 an ounce.
Asian markets were up across the board. The Japanese NIKKEI spent most of the day vacillating sideways on either side of unchanged but managed a late day rise to close up 0.4%. The Chinese Shanghai index is now up three days in a row. Today's 0.4% gain pushed its three-day gain to +4.4% and a three-month high. The Hong Kong Hang Seng erased yesterday's losses with a 1.7% bounce.
European markets saw a much larger bounce. In Britain the Nationwide Consumer Confidence Index rallied to its highest levels since April 2008. The U.K. also saw a gain in its services sector. Investors expect the Bank of England to keep interest rates unchanged when they meet tomorrow. The English FTSE rose 1.4%. The German DAX rose 1.7%. The French CAC-40 rallied 2.4%.
This morning the Institute for Supply Management released their service industry data. Economists were expecting the ISM services index to rise to 51.5. Unfortunately services activity fell from 50.9 in September to 50.6 in October. Readings over 50 indicate growth and expansion but today's number is something of a disappointment. What's driving the positive mood today is the gauge of new orders, which rose from 54.2 to 55.6. Analysts were a little concerned that the employment part of the index fell from 44.3 to 41.1.
Another good but not great economic report was the ADP employment report. The private firm revised September's job losses down from 254,000 to 227,000. Economists were estimating that the ADP report for October would come in at -198,000 and they were not far off. The results were -203,000 jobs. This is the seventh month in a row that job losses have declined but they're still job losses. Looking ahead toward Friday the market expects non-farm payrolls data to show an up tick in unemployment to 9.9% and job losses to decline to -175,000.
Today's biggest event is probably the FOMC meeting. The Fed will announce their decision on interest rates around 2:15 p.m. No one expects the Fed to raise rates from current levels in the 0.0% to 0.25% range. All the focus will be on the Fed's statement. What they say about the economy and whether or not they keep the "for an extended period" language when it comes to low rates. Bear in mind that stocks are always volatile following the Fed announcement and the first move isn't always the real move.
The U.S. dollar is making headlines as the currency retreats lower. This is boosting commodities. Gold futures have soared to a new high with an $8 gain toward $1,093.00 an ounce. Oil futures were also higher with a 1.1% gain toward $80.50 a barrel. Oil inventory numbers were released this morning and inventories were falling but demand for gas remains low. Keep an eye on the dollar this afternoon. It could see some volatility as investors react to the FOMC decision.
Currently the S&P 500 index is paring its gains with a pull back from the 1060 level. The NASDAQ is also trimming its gains after hitting the 2080 level this morning. The Russell 2000 has actually turned negative with an intraday reversal near 575 this morning.
Let's take a quick look at charts for the major averages:
Chart of the S&P 500:
Chart of the NASDAQ:
Chart of the Dow Industrials:
Chart of the Russell 2000 index:
Chart of the U.S. dollar ETF (UUP):
A quick scan of the OptionInvestor.com play list reveals another gain for the TBT. Shares of TBT are trading near $47.50. There was no follow through for the transports. The IYT spiked higher this morning and reversed lower. There is no follow through for RIMM either with the stock rising over $60 this morning and then giving back its gains. RIMM is currently down 2.6%.