European Central Bank

ECB to Expand PEPP, Jobless Claims, Stocks to Open Mixed

The European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to provide fresh monetary stimulus. It will announce decisions at its council meeting, afterwhich President Christine Lagarde will hold her regular press conference 45 minutes later.

Analysts anticipate the ECB to raise the size of its flagship Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program by 500 billion euros ($600 billion). They anticipate the bank to stretch the timeline of its operations by another six months through the end of 2021.  

More ultra-cheap and long-term loans known as TLTROs are also on the cards. The bank isn’t widely expected to cut its official deposit rate, though.  Currently it is at a record low -0.5%.

The actions are a response to the slowdown in the Eurozone economy under the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. They were all-but pre-announced at the ECB’s last meeting. 

Jobless Claims

The U.S. will release its weekly numbers on jobless claims. Analysts expect initial claims to climb to 725,000 from 712,000 last week.

This would represent another week of large-scale job destruction due to Covid-19. Also expected to show signs of bottoming out, are continuing claims, with only a modest decline to 5.335 million.

Also due are U.S. consumer inflation figures, at 8:30 AM ET. They are expected to show that the official inflation rate stayed at 1.6% in November.

Analysts will be looking closely at developments in food prices. They have gained in importance in consumer spending this year.

Stocks Set to Open Mixed 

U.S. stocks are set for another flat opening over a stimulus package. They are still in suspended animation as talks continue on Capitol Hill.

Dow Jones futures rose 54 points, or 0.2%, by 6:30 AM ET. Moreover, S&P 500 futures gained 0.1% and Nasdaq futures dipped less than 0.1%.

All three indices finished with losses on Wednesday. The Nasdaq lost almost 2% as investors made room for two new hot market debutants in their portfolios.

Certain stocks are likely to be in focus later including Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). It was hit by a new antitrust suit on Wednesday regarding its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. Furthermore,  Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), whose Covid-19 vaccine is set to be approved for emergency use by an FDA committee.

Meanwhile, in other economic news, most eyes are likely to be on the performance of AirBnB. It has priced its IPO last night at $68 a share. That’s more than 12% above the top end of a marketing range that had already been raised once.

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