European shares are tracking slightly higher in early trading, offsetting choppy trading in Asian markets following a decision on Thursday by China’s central bank to inject the largest amount of cash into the Chinese financial system in 3 years ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year that begins on February 7th when extra cash is in high demand.
Today the People’s Bank of China injected 340 billion yuan ($51.9 billion) of short term loans to commercial banks through a money market operation after funneling 440 billion on Tuesday.
Last week, the People’s Bank of China added 1.5 trillion into their financial system.
The major cash injections by China’s central bank over the past 2 weeks serves as a financial buttress and helps to protect China’s financial system from capital outflows as global investors react to a slower growth rate in China alongside a devaluation in the yuan this month and a decline over 20 percent in China’s stock market in 2016.
Today the Shanghai Composite Index is down -2.92 percent.
China’s GDP in 2015 fell to 6.9 percent, missing its 7.0 percent annual target, and marking the lowest GDP level since 1990.
The United States
Yesterday at the conclusion of a 2 day Federal Reserve meeting, Committee members decided to hold interest rates steady with no policy adjustments as was expected.
The Federal Reserve decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1/4 to 1/2 percent.
On the Fed’s written statement, there was some acknowledgment that inflation increases remain modest in the short-term due to the drop in oil prices but they noted it will likely move to its 2 percent target in the medium term.
“Inflation is expected to remain low in the near term, in part because of the further declines in energy prices, but to rise to 2 percent over the medium term as the transitory effects of declines in energy and import prices dissipate and the labor market strengthens further” according to the statement.
Committee members will set their path of the federal funds based on incoming data and the economic outlook.
However, based on the statement, Committee members don’t appear to be overly confident about the economic outlook and the need to raise interest rates anytime soon.
Committee members emphasized in their statement that “economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run.”
Based on the Fed’ latest economic projections and plot chart from last month, there are 4 rate increases in store for 2016.
But if economic growth weakens, it is not out of the question to see 3 increases.
On Friday at 8:30 a.m. the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release U.S. 4th quarter GDP results for 2015 which is expected to slow from the previous quarter.
Economists from briefing.com have a consensus of 0.9 percent GDP growth in the 4th quarter of 2015.
During the previous quarter (3rd Q), GDP growth reached 2.0 percent.