Markets

Souring risk sentiment during Friday’s US trading session eventually offered some relief for ailing US Treasuries. Ahead of late-session, safe haven rebound, the US Note future approached the post-CPI sell-off low after Michigan consumer confidence showed consumers expecting a 5% inflation rate over the next year. The headline index fell to the lowest since October 2011 as the combination of persistent price pressure, a potentially less supportive fiscal stance and a tighter monetary policy all dampen growth perspectives. In yield terms, the US 10-yr yield failed a sustained break above the psychologic 2% mark in the weekly close. US stocks were already trading heavy before sinking after US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that Russia could initiate military action even before the end of the Winter Olympics (February 20). He added that it can take a variety of forms. It could be more limited, it could be more expansive, but there are very real possibilities that it will involve the seizure of a significant amount of territory in Ukraine and the seizure of major cities including the capital city. Main US equity indices eventually lost 1.4% (Dow) to 2.8% (Nasdaq). The S&P 500 closed below the 4451.5 neckline of a short term double top formation, suggesting a return to the 4222.62/4278.94 support zone (YTD sell-off low & Oct2021 low). Brent crude rose from $90.5/b to $95.5/b. US yields dropped by 7.7 bps (2-yr) to 9.6 bps (5-yr) with the belly of the curve outperforming the wings. The German yield curve still showed a small bear steepening move (0.5 bps for 2-yr; +2.1 bps for 30-yr) because of the timing of the move (after European close). A catch-up move can be expected at today’s opening. Peripheral spreads extended their post-ECB widening trend, adding up to 5 bps for Greece and Italy even as ECB members keep pushing back against very aggressive market pricing regarding policy rates. Irish ECB member Makhlouf in an interview with the FT this weekend for example said that the idea of hiking interest rates in June looks very unrealistic. “There’s a bit of difference between the calendar we’re working to and the one some market participants may have in mind.” The dollar outpowered the euro in the late risk-off spell with EUR/USD closing at 1.135 from an 1.1428 open. The trade weighted dollar managed a first close above the 96 big figure since February 1st. USD/JPY fell from the 116.25 resistance area to 115.33 currently, with JPY obviously the stand-out safe haven currency. EUR/GBP strangely enough followed the EUR/USD move south, to close 0.837 from an 0.8428 open. Risk aversion remains dominant in Asia this morning. The eco calendar is empty suggesting it will be so for the rest of the session.

News headlines

Members of the ruling Polish Law and Justice Party submitted a bill to the Parliament to change a disciplinary chamber of judges that is at the core of the dispute with the EU over the rule of Law. Under the proposed bill, cases of disciplinary action against judges would be transferred to the Supreme Court. The disciplinary chamber will continue to exist but only handle cases involving other legal professions. According to the justification of the bill, the proposal complies with all facets of the Court of Justice of the EU. The proposal probably won’t be considered as a final answer by the EU but could be a basis for further negotiations. The raft between the EU and Poland on rule of law was an obstacle in executing Poland’s €36bn support of the Next Generation EU Recovery package. Last week, Poland’s President Duda also indicated that it wasn’t opportune for Poland to continue this dispute given the international tensions around Ukraine.

Rating agency Fitch further cut the credit rating of Turkey into junk territory. The agency lowered the country’s foreign currency issuer default rating to B+ from BB-. The outlook remains negative. According to the agency’s statement ‘Policy-driven financial stress episodes of higher frequency and intensity have increased Turkey's vulnerabilities in terms of high inflation, low external liquidity and weak policy credibility’. Fitch does not expect the authorities' policy response to reduce inflation, including FX-protected deposits, targeted credit and capital flow measures, will sustainably ease macroeconomic and financial stability risks.’

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This non-exhaustive information is based on short-term forecasts for expected developments on the financial markets. KBC Bank cannot guarantee that these forecasts will materialize and cannot be held liable in any way for direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this document or its content. The document is not intended as personalized investment advice and does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell or hold investments described herein. Although information has been obtained from and is based upon sources KBC believes to be reliable, KBC does not guarantee the accuracy of this information, which may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions and estimates constitute a KBC judgment as of the data of the report and are subject to change without notice.

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