Financial markets were lifted despite the lack of news and dataflow. Apparently, investors were buoyed by the ECB's plans to support sovereign bonds and Germany's support to the plan. Wall Street gained with the DJIA and the S&P 500 adding +0.16% and +0.23% respectively. Crude oil prices rose with the front-month WTI contract rose to a 3-week high of 92.33 before settling at 92.20, up +0.88%, while the equivalent Brent crude contract soared to almost a 3-month high of 109.77 before ending the day at 109.55, up +0.56%. Gold also climbed higher with the benchmark Comex contract gaining +0.43% to close at 1616.2.
A ray of light was shone at the Eurozone amid news that the ECB/IMF/EU troika has made some progresses in the negotiation with Greece. Talks with the debt-ridden bailout country were completed and the troika said that it would return in September to give their final verdict. Last week, the ECB president Draghi pledged that the central bank would re-activate bond purchases to resolve the sovereign debt problems. This plan appeared to be given green light as Merkel's deputy spokesman Georg Streiter publicly stated that there's "no doubt at all that everything the ECB is doing lies within its mandate". With Germany's support, the market had gained confidence that the ECB would likely announce new easing measures as soon as in September.
In the US, the Fed Chairman Bernanke acknowledged that many US citizens are still struggling "with difficult economic and financial conditions" although "some key aggregate metrics - including consumer spending, disposable income, household net worth and debt service payments - have moved in the direction of recovery". In a pre-recorded video speech for a Massachusetts conference, Bernanke stated that macroeconomic indicators can "sometimes mask important information". He also suggested economists to make use of also "distribution of income, confidence about future employment prospects and the ability of households to deal with financial shocks" to gauge "the economics of happiness" of the people. The Chairman's concern may signal that the Fed would do more to ease the economic conditions further as most of the people are still "struggling".
The RBA left the cash rate unchanged at 3.5%. Policymakers believed that current interest rates for borrowers are "a little below their medium-term averages". Moreover, the RBA noted that dwelling prices have firmed over the past couple of months while business credit has grown at the fastest pace for several years over the past 6 months. Policymakers, however, warned that strength in the Australian dollar has remained high.
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