The latest Federal Reserve minutes, released on Wednesday (05/07), injected a degree of uncertainty into markets. The minutes, covering the Federal Open Market Committee's June meeting, show a fragmented Fed that is split on when to start shrinking the Fed's massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet as well as on the inflation slowdown.
Several Fed officials prefer to start the balance sheet unwinding within the next couple of months, while others believe it would be better to wait to see where US inflation is going. A near-term move (for example September 2017) would mean the Fed takes a less gradual path.
Regarding US inflation, most Fed officials attributed soft inflation to idiosyncratic factors (one-off decreases in the costs of mobile telephone plans and prescription drugs), while several other officials expressed their concern about the slowing pace of US inflation. Meanwhile, a couple of officials saw unemployment undershoot the inflation risk. US ADP employment data are due later today, while the non-farm payrolls number is due on Friday.
The latest Federal Reserve minutes also indicate Fed officials are concerned about the impact of more rate hikes on financial markets' stability.
Overnight, US stocks were mixed. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.01 percent, the S&P 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite added 0.1 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively, on Wednesday (05/07). The Nasdaq outperformed on the back of the tech sector. This "tech rebound" was not felt in Asia, however, on Thursday morning (06/07).
The US dollar's performance slipped after having rallied earlier this week on upbeat US economic indicators that lifted US treasury yields to multi-week highs.
So far on Thursday morning (06/07) Asian markets are slightly in the red - or moving sideways - as market participants are digesting the information presented in the latest Fed minutes. Moreover, they may be waiting for important US jobs data released later today and tomorrow. Investors could also be in a wait-and-see mode ahead of the G-20 summit and the rising tensions between North Korea and the USA. For the euro and European bond markets, investors await the European Central Bank (ECB)'s June policy meeting minutes due later today.