US stocks at mercy of ECB decision on stimulus

Traders in New York will are watching out for European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi's next move.


Traders in New York are watching the ECB announcement closely

The performance of US stocks this afternoon will depend very much on events in Frankfurt where the European Central Bank (ECB) is this afternoon expected to reveal plans to launch to a quantitative easing programme for the struggling eurozone economy.

Late morning futures were suggesting the Dow will kick off today's session 30 points higher at 17,521, with the S&P 500 ahead 3.25 points at 2,029. Watch out for big changes to that though from 1.30pm, when the ECB begins its press conference.

Looks like it will be QE:As we reported this morning, it is widely expected across media and markets that the ECB will announce a programme of quantitative easing this afternoon. Reports suggest the bank could inject up to a trillion euros into the struggling eurozone economy in an effort to restore it to growth.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Michael Hewson, chief analyst at CMC Markets, says market focus now is finding out what concessions had to be made by ECB president Mario Draghi to get the reluctant Germans on board, or "given the size of the stimulus package that is being reported, whether the Germans are even on board".

He adds: "If the decision is not unanimous, which seems likely given the reported size of the package, then the market should be prepared for legal challenges in the German courts, and it is in this context that any conditionality (bond-issuing countries agreeing to certain domestic economic measures) is likely to be key, particularly if the French and Italian governments show no signs of implementing further reforms."

Ebay in focus: That US stock future indices were treading positive territory late morning is partly down to eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) providing support in pre-market trade.

The e-commerce giant cheered investors after hours yesterday with forecast-busting fourth quarter numbers. It also announced plans to slash 2,400 jobs 7% of its workforce and revealed it is exploring the sale or spin-off of its eBay Enterprise unit, which helps companies with their web sales efforts.

Elsewhere, shares in mobile networks Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile (NYSE: PCS) could find favour following reports that Google is planning to sell mobile phones directly to customers and offer phone plans through the two networks.

Companies reporting fourth quarter numbers today include Verizon, Starbucks, Capital One and Southwest Airlines.

Oil's not well at all: The latest US crude oil inventories data is due at 4pm UK-time. It is expected to provide further confirmation that the global oil glut that has driven oil prices dramatically lower in recent months is set to continue well into 2015.

Analysts expect the data will show crude supplies rose by 2.7 million barrels in the week ended January 16, while gasoline inventories rose by 800,000 barrels and stocks of distillates, including diesel fuel and heating oil, rose by 300,000 barrels.

Late morning Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up 0.58 cents to $49.61. Its price is down close to 60% since June.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, you will pay your tax bill!: Having vehemently insisted he would not under any circumstances, come hell or high water, pay an "absolutely outrageous" tax bill demanded by American authorities, Boris Johnson, mayor of London, has done a U-turn and is back in the US Internal Revenue Service's good book.

Johnson was born in New York and though he left when he was five, he still has US citizenship. Unlike most countries, the US taxes citizens, including expats like Johnson, on all income, regardless of where they live or earn.

Kam Patel

Kam is a former deputy editor at Hemscott Invest and online editor, City A.M and he was also previously the Digital Editor at IFA Magazine. Kam is currently a senior journalist at The Global Treasurer and contributes to MoneyWeek. Kam shares expertise on the FTSE 100, investing and global stocks.