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Risk on in first full trading day of May

Today marks the first full trading day of the new month. Expect to come across lots of “sell in May, go away” headlines. So far, we haven’t seen any significant selling in the stock markets. If anything, the major indices in the US remain very close to their all-time highs, while in Europe the German DAX has held above its old record high at 12390 while the UK’s FTSE is about 200 points shy of its ATH hit in March. Thus, risk remains firmly on the table for now. As a result, the USD/JPY – yen being a perceived safe-haven currency – along with other yen crosses have been able to climb sharply higher in recent trade. Among the yen crosses, the EUR/JPY and GBP/JPY have performed remarkably well. In addition to the on-going “risk-on” trade, the market-friendly outcome of the French first round election and the announcement of a snap election in the UK by Prime Minister Theresa May are the reasons behind these yen pairs’ stellar performances. The pound got another shot in the arm this morning by news UK manufacturing output expanded at its fastest pace in three years. According to the official PMI survey, output in the sector rebound strongly to 57.3 in April from 54.2 the month before. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, so this was a great result and bodes well for Q2 GDP. The corresponding data for mainland Europe, released last week, were likewise stronger-than-expected. Today the revised figures showed little change, and as such the euro was able to maintain its bullish bias against the US dollar and Japanese yen, but weakened versus the British pound. With manufacturing PMI figures from both the UK and Eurozone showing growth, this has dampened worries that the impact of Brexit was beginning to bite. But let’s see if the PMI figures from the UK’s other key sectors – construction and services – will revive the worries again. In addition to UK data, there will be plenty of other global top-tier economic pointers to look forward to this week, not least the US monthly jobs report on Friday. What’s more, there will be plenty of US corporate earnings and a Federal Reserve rate decision to provide direction. Consequently, the remainder of this week should be more volatile after a slow start. 

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