The terrible earthquake in Japan happened with just 20 minutes left in stock trading there and the Nikkei expectedly fell 120 pts into their close. The Yen however is higher vs the US$ on the belief that Yen will get repatriated from overseas in response. As seen yesterday with the commodity selloff on fears of a global economic slowdown, particularly after the China trade news, oil and other commodities are down again on the prospect of slower demand initially from the 3rd largest economy in the world. Unfortunately for now with supply issues and QE2, commodity prices are only dropping on the belief of economic slowdown. With respect to the ‘Day of Rage’ in Saudi Arabia and its influence on oil prices today, news reports said hundreds of police are in Riyadh, blocking roads and conducting random checks.
China reported a higher than expected Feb CPI of 4.9%, .1% above forecasts and PPI was up 7.2% vs the consensus of a rise of 7%. Industrial production rose more than expected but retail sales rose at a slower rate than forecasted. Net of it all, China has an inflation problem and they will take more steps to deal with it. Malaysia did not raise interest rates as expected but did raise reserve requirements and is the 4th central bank this week in Asia to take steps to moderate inflation pressures. Today’s EU summit has done nothing to calm nerves with Greece, Ireland and Portugal as yields in those countries are all higher. Canada reported their Feb jobs figure that rose less than expected.