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10 March 2019, 02:52 | Hattie Nash
European shares pull back ahead of ECB meeting
Growth in China has also been slowing and previous year hit its lowest level in three decades, with a further lowering expected for 2019. However, the drop from January's figures - which saw exports up 13.9 percent and imports climb 2.9 percent - is the biggest in three years.
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Analysts cautioned the timing of the Lunar New Year made it hard to draw a true signal from the noise but the scale of the miss was alarming. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1.1 percent to a two-week trough. On Wednesday it cut its growth forecast for the euro zone to 1 percent from the prediction of 1.8 percent which it made just last November. Conditions in the Euro Zone were perceived as so bad that the ECB: pushed back the timing of its first post-crisis interest rate hike to 2020, cut its economic forecasts and launched a new round of cheap bank loans.
ECB sees interest rates unchanged at least through 2019
Yet the cocktail of growth woes and dovish central banks proved a boon for bonds.
The data knocked Chinese stocks off the 20-month highs hit earlier in the week, with mainland equity indexes plunging more than 4 percent in their worst day in five months. "We were not expecting something so clear, so soon, and markets were not either, so bond yields are likely to stay low for longer". A weaker U.S. Dollar also tends to make dollar-denominated gold more attractive to foreign traders.
The Australian Dollar trod water at $0.7013, having declined 0.9% this week and hitting a 2-month low of $0.7005 after data showed the economy grew at its slowest pace in 2 years last Quarter. There was also a chance the jobless rate could fall by more than forecast given the recent strength in employment.
The difference between the overnight and forward Eonia interest rates - bank-to-bank interest rates for the euro area that provide some indication of how investors view the ECB rate trajectory - imply a 10-basis-point rate hike is now only fully priced in for late-2020.
The news saw the euro slip against the United States dollar and the Swiss Franc.
The numbers are still likely to highlight the relative outperformance of the US economy, especially against the European Union, and further encourage dollar bulls. GDP growth estimates for the year ahead have been lowered to 1.1 percent for the Eurozone, with Germany and Italy struggling in particular.
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