Big swings in the Dow and Dax push volatility higher, European equities rally, ASX futures 17 points lower

The huge Russian ruble sale going on has been unsettling for Europeans, but US Secretary of State John Kerry seems to think that constructive gestures are being made and has told reporters in London that, "These sanctions could be lifted in a matter of weeks or days, depending on the choices that President Putin takes." However a White House spokesperson then back-pedalled a bit, emphasising that nothing has necessarily changes and it all comes down to choices that Putin makes - maybe Kerry overstepped the mark in his statement. But there's little doubt that the pressure on Russia to cooperate is getting greater, and I suspect that once something starts to give that the world may return to a more normal state, putting in a 'bottom' for crude markets and providing investors with a little more certainty.

European investors were encouraged by an easing in Russian/Ukrainian tensions last night after an absence shooting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, and European markets rose as high as 3.27% (Italy), with Germany's Dax up 2.46%. Today's first chart illustrates the pressure Europe's three largest equity markets have been under since topping out earlier this month, with year-to-date returns flat-to-negative, but relatively contained considering some of the big challenges that the global economy has gone through this year.

Today's second chart shows the S&P 500 implied volatility index (VIX) experiencing huge intraday ranges - look at the size of the last few daily candlesticks compared with moves throughout the rest of the year - US traders are obviously feeling a bit schizophrenic at present. The last chart today shows the year-to-date move in the ASX futures in percentage terms. We're at October lows again and we should see some buying support keep losses relatively contained today.

Traders please remember that US CPI is due out at 12:30am tomorrow morning, followed by the US Fed rate decision and press conference at 6am and 6:30am, Sydney time. Expect a lot of FX volatility and hopefully some equity direction as the picture becomes clearer for 2015 monetary policy out of the US.

Today’s charts are taken from the Rivkin Trader platform. 30,000 global instruments available to trade including FX, commodities, index, ETFs and international shares. Trade Australian share CFDs from just $8 or 0.10%. Click here or phone 1300 748 546 to get your free $100,000 demo account.

Upcoming economic announcements: Westpac leading index (AU) at 10:30am, Japanese trade balance total at 10:50am, UK central bank minutes and employment report at 8:30pm, US CPI at 12:30am and US Fed rate decision at 6am followed by press conference at 6:30am, all Sydney time.

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