Yesterday’s PMIs for the UK, Europe and US all showed similar characteristics: the manufacturing sector is under (intensifying) pressure but the all-important services economy is booming. Core bonds (initially) slipped with a massive underperformance from UK gilts. Yields on the British island shot up between 8.2 and 9.4 bps. Both German yields and US yields eased from their intraday highs. The former still rose around 1 bp across the curve. Rates in the latter ended 1.2-2.6 bps in the red after having risen up to 6 bps higher initially. The turnaround came as sentiment around debt ceiling talks took a hit. Speaker of the Republican House McCarthy said a deal is not close yet. Meanwhile, more and more House Republicans aren’t buying USTS Yellen’s warning that the so-called X-date could come as soon as June 1. T-bills with an expiry around that assumed X-date deepen. Stock markets slid 1% in Europe and between 0.7-1.2% in the US. The risk-off supported the dollar, pushing EUR/USD towards a two-month low at 1.077. DXY neared recent highs around 103.5. Sterling experienced some post-PMI volatility but in the end inched higher, keeping EUR/GBP firmly near the May/YtD lows in the high 0.86 area. Scandinavian currencies and the ones Down Under were under pressure with commodities including iron ore and copper being sold. Oil (+1.1% to $76.3/b) wasn’t very impressed by the Saudi energy minister warning short-sellers ahead of an OPEC meeting next week. The Kiwi dollar is even taking a turn for the worse this morning after the RBNZ signaled its rate hike was the last one (see headline below). Sterling tries to push through recent highs following much higher-than-expected UK CPI data this morning. Headline eased only to 8.7% (from 10.1%) vs 8.2% expected and core even accelerated to 6.8% vs the 6.2% status quo expected. Consider the BoE’s condition for further rate hikes more evidence of persistent inflation checked. The economic calendar has little additional to offer in terms of data. We do keep an eye at the Fed meeting minutes from the May meeting as well as a whole range of central bank speeches (including from ECB’s Lagarde and BoE’s Bailey) that could influence trading. In the meantime, the US dollar is consolidating near recent highs. Core bond yields’ recent upward momentum showed signs of easing yesterday but re-found support from the UK CPI. The US 10-y yield holds above the sideways trading range while Germany’s 10-y is readying for a new test of the 2.5% resistance.
News and views
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised its policy rate by 25 bps to 5.50% as expected. Still markets clearly sees the move as a dovish hike. The Committee discussed the option of leaving the policy rate unchanged at 5.25%. In the end, a majority of five votes to two agreed to raise the policy rate to 5.50%. The Monetary Policy Committee reached a consensus that interest rates will need to remain at a restrictive level for the foreseeable future, to ensure consumer price inflation returns to the 1 to 3% target range while supporting maximum sustainable employment. New Zealand inflation is expected to continue to decline from its peak and with it measures of inflation expectations. Core inflation pressures will remain until capacity constraints ease further. While employment is above its maximum sustainable level, there are now signs of labour shortages easing and vacancies declining. In its monetary policy statement, the RBNZ indicates that current 5.50% level might be the peak of the cycle and that rate cuts are possible from H2 next year. Before today’s decision, interest rate markets took into account that at least two additional interest rate hikes were possible. The New Zealand 2-y government bond yield dropped about 30 bps to currently 4.8%. The Kiwi dollar tumbled from the NZD/USD 0.6255 area to currently trade near 0.617.
Comments from members of the Czech central bank showed the division within to MPC on whether or not to raise rates further. Jan Kubicek in an interview indicated that current level of the policy rate (7.0%) is adequate to bring inflation down and that it might be possible for CNB to start lowering rates in Q4 this year or early next year, even as he admitted that rates should be longer at current level than forecasted by the CNB’s model. At the same time, hawkish member Holub indicated that the risk of a wage spiral is partially materializing. In this context, with double-digit inflation, it’s the central banks job to prioritize inflation over the potential negative consequences of higher interest rates on the real economy. Holub at the early May meeting in the first round of the vote even supported the case for a 50 bps hike (final vote 4-3 for unchanged).
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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