With precious little fundamental news on the economic calendar for Europe today all eyes will be on the US where the 2 items of data are due for release this afternoon, the first of which is a speech by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who is due to testify before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on the economic outlook.  Most commentators expect Bernanke to offer a fairly upbeat analysis of the country’s economic state at present but probably overlain with suggestions that any full recovery could take years before things return to “normal”.   The session is two parts with a prepared speech followed by questions and answers, and it is during the latter that we are likely to see market volatility as unscripted questions can lead to unprompted and off the cuff remarks.

At the same time as Bernanke begins his testimony we expect the ISM Non Manufacturing PMI numbers to be released and the forecast for today is for a slight improvement over last month’s figures at 42.5, versus 40.8 last time.  This is a diffusion index based on a survey of purchasing managers which excludes the manufacturing industry, with any number above 50 indicating an expanding sector whilst below 50 is considered contraction.  As it is still a national holiday in Japan trading volumes across all markets are lower than usual and any news may have unexpected and unusual effects as a result.

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