Jobless claims fall to the lowest levels since 1973, stock markets are a mixed bag, Singapore dropped its monetary stance unexpectedly, and the Bank of England will make an announcement on its policy decision this evening. Here are five things you need to know in the markets today.
1. U.S. Jobless Claims Fall Unexpectedly
The number of jobless claims in the U.S. fell unexpectedly last week to the lowest level since 1973, signaling that employers are optimistic about the economy.
Unemployment claims fell by 13,000 last week to 253,000. Analysts were expecting claims to fall to 270,000. The four-week moving average of claims showed a decline to 265,000 from the previous week’s 266,500.
The number of continuing claims, the people who continue to receive unemployment benefits, dropped by 18,000 to 2.17 million the week ended April 2.
2. Stocks are Mixed
European stocks were flat in morning trade, while Asian equity markets rose overnight. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 1.6%. The yen was trading above 109 to the U.S. dollar, pushing the Topix index in Japan up 2.9%.
The Europe Stoxx 600 was flat in mid-morning trade after falling as much as 0.4%.
S&P 500 futures were virtually unchanged.
3. Oil Supply Glut May Be Over Soon
The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that the global oil supply glut will inch closer towards “balance” possibly in the second half of 2016. The prediction comes as production outside of OPEC, including shale oil in the U.S., continues to decline and prices are low.
The agency sees little change to the supply numbers if a production freeze agreement is made during the meeting between OPEC and Russia on April 17.
Oil futures were 0.3% lower in pre-trade, at $41.63 per barrel.
4. The Bank of England’s Policy Decision
Investors will be awaiting the Bank of England’s policy decision due this morning. Rates are expected to remain unchanged, but the announcement may offer clues as to whether officials are concerned about a Brexit.
5. Singapore Eases Monetary Stance
In a surprise move, Singapore eased its monetary stance overnight, with a zero percent target for exchange rate appreciation. The bank’s move sent the Singapore dollar down 1.2%. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is one of the only major central banks to target the exchange rate instead of the inflation rate.