The UK manufacturing PMI was revised higher to 58.9 in March versus 57.9 expected
U.S. stocks rose overnight, closing out the month and the first quarter on an upbeat note as investors were weighing President Joe Biden’s big infrastructure spending plan. On the data front, private payrolls in March expanded at the fastest pace since September 2020 with employment rising 517,000 for the month. It was a healthy spike from the 176,000 in February. Now, investors await the key March jobs report on Friday to assess the state of the country’s labor market. The S&P 500 ended the session 0.4% higher after hitting a fresh intraday record high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite popped 1.5%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.3%. The 10-year Treasury yield traded flat on Wednesday at 1.73% after notching a 14-month high of 1.77%.
Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Thursday after strong economic data. In Japan, the Tankan index of business conditions for large manufacturers rose into positive territory for the first time since 2019 while South Korea reported March export growth accelerated to 16.6% over a year earlier from the previous month’s 9.5%. As such, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.71%, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 0.72%, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added nearly 1%.
In Europe, equities opened marginally higher today, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index rising 0.2% in early trading. On the data front, German retail sales rose by 1.2% MoM in February versus +2.0% expected and -4.5% last. On an annualized basis, retail sales came in at -9.0% in February versus -8.7% seen in January and -6.3% expected. In the UK, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI was revised higher to 58.9 in March versus 57.9 expected and 57.9 first readout.
In currencies, the dollar regained upside momentum following mixed trading on Wednesday. EURUSD held above the 1.1700 figure but failed to see a more robust recovery and turned lower again early on Thursday. In recent trading, the common currency managed to attract some demand but still lacks the impetus to stage a more sustained recovery from fresh November lows.