Markets

Above-consensus April inflation figures in the UK triggered an obvious underperformance of gilts, resulting in yield gains between 7.2 (30-yr) and 14.2 bps (2-yr). A June rate cut by the BoE is just short of fully priced out. Steep gilt losses dragged core peers lower as well. German yields gapped higher at the open and traded sideways afterwards. Yields ended between 2.7 and 4 bps higher across the curve. US rates at the front rose up to 4.2 bps after receiving a second gentle push in the back by the FOMC May meeting minutes. They generally showed policymakers supporting a higher for longer message in the wake of “disappointing readings on inflation over the first quarter”. “Various” participants mentioned willingness to tighten further if needed, something chair Powell at the press conference more or less ruled out. While he said back then that policy was restrictive enough, the minutes revealed more uncertainty with officials pointing at the possibility of high interest rates having a smaller impact on the economy than in the past and a potentially higher neutral rate. The dollar gained the upper hand all day against most peers, supported by the minor risk-off on equity markets (WS between 0.2 and 0.5% lower). EUR/USD fell from 1.0854 to 1.0823 with a noticeable acceleration after the minutes’ release. DXY closed a tad below 105, up from 104.618 at the open. USD/JPY (156.8) closed at the highest level since the (alleged) intervention by Japanese officials. Sterling shared first place with the NZD (hawkish hold by the RBNZ). EUR/GBP tanked towards the lowest level since mid- March. With a close at 0.851 the pair seems to be reading a test for the YtD low of 0.8498. Cable (1.2717) eked out a small again despite an overall strong USD.

PMI business confidence and euro area Q1 negotiated wages are the next big thing on this week’s economic calendar. Markets are headed towards their release expecting an ongoing recovery of the former in Europe. Especially services (53.3 in April) surprised to the upside lately, with even final readings coming in better than the preliminary release. Manufacturing will remain in the doldrums, weighed down by Germany in particular. Last time around, though, the rate of decline in the actual output eased again to the slowest in 12 months. Price pressures have been intensifying in recent months with prices in services climbing at a strong pace by historical standards, driven by higher wage rates. This is where the Q1 wage negotiations outcome will offer an important glimpse for what to expect going forward. Member states data suggest only a marginal easing of the 4.5% pace in 2023Q4. Taken together, we believe today’s data will support core/European yields in their recent recovery. This should protect the euro’s downside against a dollar that did notice yesterday’s FOMC meeting minutes and Powell’s onesided interpretation at the presser. A break above the recent highs (1.0895) requires a strong upside surprise in both the PMIs and the wage data.

News and views

UK PM Rishi Sunak yesterday called a July 4 general election. The move came as a surprise as the Conservatives trail the opposition Labour party led by Keir Starmer by some 20 points in the polls (roughly 45% vs 25%), likely ending their 14-yr rule in power. There was no point in waiting until autumn though. After consulting with Chancellor Hunt, they agreed there won’t come any additional economic cheer, not least because public finances don’t allow for more tax gifts. It could help them campaigning on the swift recovery from recession and the fall in inflation (2.3% headline) given the bumpy path ahead. The Tories faced a hard January 2025 deadline nevertheless to hold new elections.

The Bank of Korea kept its policy rate unchanged at 3.5% this morning, the level in place since January 2023. The decision was unanimous. The central bank raised its growth forecast for this year from 2.1% to 2.5% and lowered it from 2.3% to 2.1% for next year. This year’s CPI forecast is unchanged at 2.6%, but more data is needed to be confident that inflation will converge to the target given increased upside inflation risks (stronger Q1 growth, heightened volatility in the exchange rate and persisting geopolitical risks). Governor Rhee Chang-yong at the press conference sounded less certain on the timing of a potential first rate cut than a month ago.

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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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