© Reuters.  5 key factors for the markets on Thursday© Reuters. 5 key factors for the markets on Thursday

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

1. BoE expected to hold rates steady, markets look for hike hints

The Bank of England (BoE) will announce its rate decision at 7:00AM ET (12:00GMT) on Thursday. The central bank will also publish its quarterly inflation report at the same time.

BoE Governor Mark Carney will hold a press conference 30 minutes after the announcement.

The BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee looks almost certain to keep rates at 0.50% so it can weigh up the impact of November’s rate hike on the economy as it heads for Brexit, but investors are increasingly expecting another move to come along soon.

Though consensus is looking for a unanimous decision to hold policy steady, some analysts suggest that one or two policymakers could begin to shift towards a hike.

That said, financial futures prices are currently implying a 50-50 chance of a 25 basis-point rise in rates in May, a relatively quick follow-up to the BoE rate hike in November, the first for a decade. Some investors think rates could even rise twice this year.

2. Gold falls to 5-week low as dollar strengthens

Gold prices edged lower on Thursday, reaching their lowest level in around a month as the dollar firmed amid expectations of more U.S. interest rate hikes this year.

Comex gold futures fell to a session low of $1,311.30 a troy ounce, its worst level since January 10. It was last at $1,312.90 by 5:55AM ET (10:55GMT), down around 0.1%.

Gold has been under pressure as the dollar index and Treasury yields gained, dulling investment demand for the precious metal.

The move higher in the yields also came amid news that U.S. Senate leaders reached a two-year budget deal to raise government spending by almost $300 billion.

Meanwhile, the greenback’s recent recovery continued in early trade Thursday. Against a basket of six major rival currencies, the dollar traded up around 0.2% at 90.34 by 5:55AM ET (10:55GMT), its highest in two weeks, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury note stood at around 2.833%, just off four-year high of 2.885% set on Monday.

Although market participants will keep watch on weekly jobless claims out at 8:30AM ET (13:30GMT), they will also pay close attention to appearances from Federal Reserve policymakers for clues to the future path of rate hikes.

Dallas Fed president Robert Kaplan said in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday that three more rate hikes this year was appropriate and insisted that the best way for to support the economic expansion was to continue the removal of policy accommodation.

The heads of the Philadelphia and Minneapolis Feds, Patrick Harker and Neel Kashkari, respectively, are scheduled for appearances later on Thursday.

3. Global stocks remain jittery mid wild swings

The recent selloff in global equities and increase in market volatility kept traders on edge Thursday, athough some analysts continued to see signs that the recent downturn was nothing more than a healthy correction. U.S. futures last pointed to a mixed open in early morning trade as they struggled to find direction around the unchanged mark. At 5:57AM ET (10:57GMT), the blue-chip Dow futures fell 57 points, or 0.23%, S&P 500 futures lost 5 points, or 0.19%, while the Nasdaq 100 futures inched up 2 points, or 0.03%.

Elsewhere, European shares were under pressure on Thursday, weighed down by commodities and tech stocks despite positive performance in the financial sector and support from M&A news.

Earlier, Asian stock markets registered mixed trade with Japan’s Nikkei up around 1.1%, while China’s Shanghai Composite ended with losses of 1.4%.

4. Yuan falls most since August 2015 after Chinese trade data

Although China’s trade data painted a positive picture of the underlying strength of the world’s second largest economy with exports jumping 11.1% and imports surging 36.9% in January, the country’s trade balance was hit by its skyrocketing purchases of foreign products.

Volatility surged on Thursday and, according to a report from Bloomberg, the gap between onshore and offshore rates tripled compared with the same time on Wednesday.

Prior to Thursday’s plunge in the yuan, its largest since August 2015, the currency had seen a two-week climb against the dollar that fueled expectations that policymakers would step in to reign in gains.

5. Oil prices continue to decline on record U.S. output

Oil prices remained under pressure on Thursday as traders fretted over the surge in U.S. production. Government data confirmed a day earlier that U.S. output had jumped to 10.251 million barrels per day (bpd), higher than the previous 10.044 million bpd record from back in 1970.

U.S. output has surged by more than 20% since mid-2016, undermining OPEC’s and Russia’s efforts to tighten the market and prop up prices by withholding production.

U.S. crude oil futures lost 0.55% to $61.45 at 5:59AM ET (10:59GMT), while Brent oil fell 0.47% to $65.20.

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