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Yellen confirms Federal Reserve on track for December rate hike

US stocks dropped on Wednesday as falling oil prices weighed on energy stocks and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s remarks indicated the central bank is on track to raise interest rates in December. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.89% and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.64%. The S&P 500 dropped 1.1% with energy shares leading the decliners. The dollar hit 13 year high as stronger-than-expected report by Automatic Data Processing Inc. showed private employers added 217000 new jobs and Yellen’s comments confirmed expectations of December rate hike as she said two requirements for a rate increase – job growth and higher inflation- are being met. Live dollar index data showed ICE US Dollar index, a measure of the dollar’s strength against a basket of six currencies, edged up 0.2%. Investors’ focus is now on jobs report which will be released tomorrow. Today at 13:30 CET Initial Jobless Claims and Continuing Claims will be released in US. At the same time Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester will give opening remarks at the Cleveland Fed’s Financial Stability conference. At 16:00 CET final reading of October ISM Non-Manufacturing Composite and Factory Orders will be released. The tentative outlook is positive. At the same time Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will testify before the congressional Joint Economic Committee. And at 19:15 CET Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer will speak the Financial Stability conference.

European stocks retreated on Wednesday erasing earlier gains as investors reconsidered expectations of overly aggressive expansion of monetary stimulus program by the European Central Bank at policy meeting on Thursday. The Stoxx 600 index closed lower 0.02% at 384.17, Germany’s Dax 30 index fell 0.6% to 11190.02, weighed by a 2.5% loss for Volkswagen after the S&P downgraded automaker’s credit rating and said the outlook was negative with a likely lowering of the long-term corporate credit rating by one notch within the next one-to-two years. The euro slipped 0.2% to $1.0594 after preliminary inflation data showed euro-zone consumer prices rose 0.1% in November, below an expected gain of 0.2%-0.3%. The lower-than-expected inflation reinforced expectations the ECB will launch more stimulus measures today to bring inflation back to its target of just below 2%. Today from 09:45 to 10:00 CET final readings of November Services and Composite PMIs for France, Germany and euro-zone will be released. The tentative outlook is neutral. At 11:00 CET October Retail Sales will be released in euro-zone. The tentative outlook is positive. At 10:30 CET November Services and Composite PMIs will be released in UK. The tentative outlook is positive for the Pound. And at 13:45 CET European Central Bank rate decision will be announced followed by a news conference 45 minutes later. Market participants expect the ECB will expand its monetary stimulus program of bond purchases and cut the deposit rate.

Nikkei ended little changed today at 19,939.90 as investors were cautious to make big commitments before the European Central Bank’s policy decision later in the day. The yen weakened against the dollar after hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

Oil futures prices are edging up today after closing sharply lower on Wednesday as official data showed US crude inventories rose to 489.4 million barrels, the most for this time of year since 1930.

Gold slipped to a near-six-year low today after comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen reinforced the case for the rate hike this month, strengthening the dollar further. A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

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