Crude oil prices gave back recent gains and retreated heavily in today’s session due to some profit taking, while the weekly EIA oil inventories report was fairly bearish after showing a large increase of 10.9 million barrels in crude oil stocks for the week ending 3rd April, versus analysts’ expectations of a smaller 3.28 million barrels build. Gasoline stocks increased by 817,000 barrels against estimates of a 1.5 million barrel drop, and distillate stocks fell slightly by 250,000 barrels during the same period. WTI front month futures plunged over 4% below $52 per barrel while Brent futures retreated towards $57 per barrel following the bearish fundamentals data.
European equity markets retreated today as the CAC, DAX, IBEX and London equity benchmark indices posted renewed losses after falling between 0.20% and 0.65%. In the US, the Dow Jones index edged higher towards 17,900 while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ posted modest gains ahead of the crucial FOMC minutes later this evening.
On the macroeconomic front, we received fairly disappointing German economic data which weighed on market sentiment and added further pressure to the euro which gave back earlier gains and slid lower to retest 1.08 against the dollar. German factory orders declined unexpectedly 0.9% in February missing analysts’ expectations of a 1.5% rise. Eurozone’s retail sales dropped by 0.2% in February, inline with estimates.
This afternoon, the main focus will turn to the release of the US Fed minutes following the last FOMC meeting, as investors have been watching closely for any indication for the timing of a possible US interest rate rise. The USD index retreated towards 97.50 against a basket of currencies in today’ trading session.