Stocks are rallying and the yen is getting crushed

Stocks are up today.

Near 1:45 p.m. ET, the Dow was up by more than 300 points, while the S&P and Nasdaq were up by nearly 2%.

It was a big, busy morning for economic data:

  • Fourth-quarter GDP came in at 0.8%, virtually in line with the forecast for 0.7%. The 2015 print was 2.4%, the same as the year before. But consumer spending grew to the highest level in 10 years, to 3.1%, showing that consumers were very much the driving force of the economy last year.
  • The employment cost index rose in line with expectations last quarter, with wages increasing 0.6%.
  • The Chicago purchasing manager’s index had its biggest month-to-month rebound in nearly 50 years. The index was mostly in contractionary territory last year, and came in at 55.6 for January.
  • Finally, the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index missed forecasts, at 92. The report showed that expectations for higher wages tumbled.

Overnight, the Bank of Japan shocked everyone when it cut interest rates to negative territory to encourage banks to lend and consumers to spend.

The yen had its biggest loss against the dollar in a year, and major stock indexes in Asia rallied on news of the central bank’s extra stimulus.

Screen Shot 2016 01 29 at 10.26.48 AMInvesting.comSpot when the BOJ headlines crossed.

In commodities, crude oil is rallying again, as West Texas Intermediate crude futures in New York gained 2.2% to as high as $34.41 per barrel.

Oil pared some gains after Reuters reported, citing a survey, that Iranian oil output rose to 150,000 barrels per day. A surge in Iranian production had been expected, as the country prepares to export now that sanctions are off.

There were reports Thursday about talks about a possible meeting to discuss an OPEC production cut, although OPEC later denied that any such thing was being planned. On Friday, an Iranian official said the country would not participate in a production cut until its daily output is 1.5 million barrels higher than current levels, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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