Greece confirmed today that it will ask the European leaders for a 6-month extension of its European loan agreement. Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakkelarides reported today that the official request for loan extension will be sent to Euro-group on Thursday morning. European equity markets climbed higher on the news with the CAC, DAX, IBEX and the Italian benchmark index gaining between 0.4% and 1.6%. The London equity benchmark missed the uptrend and slid slightly lower falling marginally 0.2%.
On the macroeconomic front, US factory output rose 0.2% in January against analysts’ expectations of a 0.3% rise. Housing starts declined 2% in January against estimates of a -1.7% drop, while building permits fell unexpectedly 0.7% during the same period versus analysts’ estimates of a 0.9% rise. The USD index climbed higher trading around 94.3 against a basket of currencies, while the euro remained under pressure hovering around 1.135 amid ongoing uncertainty in Eurozone.
In addition, we received more optimistic news from the UK as ILO unemployment fell sharply to a reach a 6-year low at 5.7% in December. Sterling rallied towards 1.545 against the USD following the bullish employment UK data.
Crude oil prices extended declines with Brent falling towards $61 per barrel and WTI front month futures retreating below $53 per barrel amid concerns regarding ongoing builds in crude oil inventories.