Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Thursday

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Top 5 Things to Know in the Market on Thursday
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com - Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, March 8:

1. European Central Bank Policy Meeting

The European Central Bank is all but certain to keep policy unchanged at the conclusion of today's meeting at 1245GMT (7:45AM ET), but it may tweak its communication stance to offer at least a few clues about its progress toward ending its unprecedented bond purchases later this year.

President Mario Draghi will hold what will be a closely-watched press conference 45 minutes after the rate announcement. How he views signs of undershooting inflation and any hints on when the central bank plans to end its €2.5 trillion stimulus program will be important.

The ECB will also unveil new macroeconomic projections, but sources familiar with the matter said they are unlikely to offer many surprises as growth and inflation are broadly on the same path as before.

Concerned over low inflation, a strong euro, rising political risk and recent market volatility, officials prefer waiting, perhaps as late as the summer, before starting to signal the end of asset buys.

The central bank cut its monthly bond purchases from €60 billion to €30 billion back in October, but extended the program until the end of September 2018, citing muted price pressures.

The euro was 0.2% lower against the dollar, with EUR/USD at 1.2385, after retracing a bounce to a 2-1/2-week peak of 1.2447 on Wednesday.

2. Trump To Make Formal Announcement On Tariffs

Amid growing pressure to exempt U.S. allies, President Donald Trump is expected to sign an order to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports during a ceremony scheduled for 3:30PM ET (2030 GMT).

Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from the tariffs, which could be extended based on progress in talks on amending the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a White House official said on Wednesday night.

That raised hopes that the tariffs may be less onerous than feared, easing nerves over a full-blown global trade war.

The moves came as more than 100 Republican House members sent an urgent letter to the White House pressing for Trump to change course.

The proclamation signing would cap a tumultuous week in the White House, where advisers have been sparring over the direction of U.S. trade policy, with the tariffs handing a victory to the nationalist wing led by adviser Peter Navarro and playing a part in Tuesday’s resignation of Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.

3. Global Stocks Tick Up With ECB Policy, Trump Tariffs In Focus

Global stocks inched higher, as investors awaited an update on monetary policy from the European Central Bank and more details about potential U.S. tariffs on steel imports.

Asian shares ended broadly higher, with stocks clawing back gains after sliding in the last session.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng led the region with rise of 1.5% after China posted surprisingly strong trade data for the first two months of the year. In Japan, the Nikkei gained 0.6%.

In Europe, the continent's major bourses traded mixed in mid-morning trade, with sectors moving in different directions.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index, the region's broadest measure of share prices, edged up 0.2%, as some disappointing earnings updates weighed.

Meanwhile, on Wall Street, U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open.

Dow futures were down 25 points, or 0.1%, from their Wednesday close, while S&P 500 futures gained 1 point and Nasdaq 100 futures tacked on 16 points, or roughly 0.2%.

In corporate earnings, Thursday is expected to feature results from Kroger (NYSE: KR ), American Eagle (NYSE: AEO ) and Burlington Stores (NYSE: BURL ) ahead of the opening bell, while Verifone (NYSE: PAY ), Finisar (NASDAQ: FNSR ) and Marvell Technology (NASDAQ: MRVL ) are due after the close.

On the data front, investors will get the weekly reading on initial jobless claims ahead of Friday’s closely-watched government jobs report .

The U.S. dollar index , a measure of the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was a shade higher at 89.70, after pulling away from a two-week trough of 89.36 the previous day.

The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield held steady at 2.885%.

4. Oil Prices Steady After Big Fall Amid Soaring U.S. Output

Oil prices steadied, after falling sharply the previous day on the back of record U.S. crude production and rising inventories.

U.S. oil production, driven by shale extraction, rose to an all-time high of 10.37 million barrels per day last week, according to government data, keeping it above Saudi Arabia's output levels and within reach of Russia, the world's biggest crude producer.

U.S. WTI crude futures added 5 cents to $61.20 per barrel, after a more than 2% fall the previous day.

London-traded Brent crude futures were at $64.31 per barrel, down 2 cents. Brent also fell by more than 2% the previous session.

5. Bitcoin Nurses Losses In Wake Of SEC Warning

Bitcoin prices were lower, nursing losses from the prior session, after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a statement saying that online platforms trading digital assets are considered securities and need to register with the agency.

Wednesday's statement came after weeks of subpoenas from the SEC in its attempt to establish better control over the many trading platforms and exchanges.

The world's biggest virtual currency by market cap was down around 4.5% to $10,007 ( BTC/USD ). It tanked more than 10% to a low of $9,422 on Wednesday.

Other major cryptocurrencies were also lower, with Ethereum , the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, sliding about 1.5% to $767.58.

The third largest cryptocurrency Ripple declined roughly 3% to trade at $0.86900.

News of a potential hack attack on the Binance exchange, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, also weighed.

In a statement on Twitter, Binance.com CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao said that the site was still investigating potential irregularities in trading.

{{%twitter%https://twitter.com/cz_binance/status/971454040704872448%twitter%}}

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