International equity markets finished with major losses overnight after the release of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Minutes. FOMC policy makers had mixed views on Chairman Bernanke’s proposal to purchase bonds until the country’s labour market shows significant improvements.
In the US, data showed that construction of new homes failed to meet expectations as it declined by 8.5% in the previous month, to 890,000. On a more positive note, US building permits increased by 1.8% to 925,000—the highest since June 2008—signalling a positive outlook for future demand.
In Europe the UK’s FTSE added 16 points (+0.3%) to settle at 6395 whilst Germany’s DAX fell a further 24 points (-0.3%) to settle at 7729. France’s CAC declined 26 points (-0.7%) to settle at 3710.
In the US the Dow Jones slashed 108 points (-0.8%) to settle at 13928 whilst the S&P declined 19 points (-1.2%) to settle at 1512. The Nasdaq fell 49 points (-1.5%) to settle at 3164.
In the commodity space, crude oil for March delivery declined by $2.20 to settle at $94.46 amid speculation that Saudi Arabia might increase its oil production.
Gold futures for April delivery declined 1.6% to settle at $1,578 per ounce due the strength in the US dollar and the resistance to Bernanke’s proposal in the minutes.
In the currency space, the Japanese yen finished lower after Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe, mentioned that there isn’t any substantial need to purchase foreign bonds.
There is no major economic data slated for release today.