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August 22, 2014 - Yellen Speech Headlines Quiet End to the Week
Trading the News Profitably
Bernanke-esque hints should not be expected today;
Draghi scheduled to speak but expectations of QE hints are low;
No economic data today as the week comes to a quieter close.
European indices look set to open relatively unchanged on Friday, as investors ignore the lead coming from the US and Asia overnight and instead take the more cautious approach ahead of Janet Yellens speech at Jackson Hole.
The speech from the Fed Chairwoman had been singled out as the one event this week that has the potential to move the markets more than any other, which given that it comes in the same week as the Bank of England and FOMC minutes, is saying something. Responsibility for this lies at the feet of her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, who used this opportunity on a couple of occasions in recent years to drop strong hints that a new round of quantitative easing was around the corner, the announcement of which came shortly after.
With the US economy recovering at a strong pace and the number of new asset purchases likely to fall to zero in two months, many believe the first rate hike is not far away. Markets are currently pricing in the first hike for the middle of next year but many believe that the Fed may be forced to do it sooner as the data just keeps on improving.
Yellen does not appear to be one to give in to the pressure though, as seen in recent months by her determination to retain her very dovish tone regardless of the improvement in the economic data. While many people will be picking apart every word she says today for hints of an earlier rate hike, I don’t expect her to follow in the footsteps of Bernanke, instead once again offering very dovish comments and focusing on slack in the economy.
This will come as music to the ears of Jackson Hole’s first ever protestors who turned up to voice their concerns about what a rate hike would mean for the average American. It seems in Yellen they have someone who is very aware of the imbalances there still are in the recovery and these protests may further drive her to stand by her gut and insist that the Fed must remain accommodative well into next year.
ECB President Mario Draghi is also due to speak at this year’s symposium, although anyone hoping for a Bernanke-esque QE hint is likely to be very disappointed. While it’s not exactly out of character for Draghi to drop strong hints out of the blue – we all remember the “whatever it takes” speech – I just think it’s too soon to expect the ECB to make another bold move. They are going to be of the opinion that the previous package of stimulus measures is still feeding into the economy and therefore won’t be willing to even consider anything else, especially QE.
Aside from Jackson Hole, the markets are likely to have very little else to focus on. We’ve been treated to quite a data heavy week so far, but that has come to an abrupt end, with no economic due from Europe or the US today.
By Alpari Forex
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