European Outlook: Asian stock markets pulled back from recent highs, with investors assessing the flood of earnings reports and for now holding back ahead of the next batch. The MSCI Asia Pacific retreated from the highest level since December 2017 and U.S. stock futures are also heading south, although FTSE 100 futures are higher ahead of the BoE announcement. The BoE is widely expected to keep rates on hold even if there are likely to remain a couple of dissenters and the inflation report could bring a slight downward revision to growth projections. Gilt yields still picked up yesterday, and the 10-year gained 2.3 bp while the Bund yield fell back -0.6 bp as Eurozone spreads widened. Some caution then in U.K. markets ahead of the announcement, although at least U.K. stocks seem to be on course to recover yesterday’s losses. The calendar has services PMI readings from the U.K. and the Eurozone as well as the ECB’s economic bulletin.
FX Action: EURUSD has settled lower after hitting a new 31-month high at 1.1910 after the London interbank close yesterday. The pair has since ebbed under 1.1850, opening in London with a softening bias. EURCHF has seen a similar price action, also hitting a 31-month peak yesterday, at 1.1524, before coming off the boil. Ditto for EURJPY, which made a 19-month peak 131.40. The new highs are the culmination of a rally the common currency has been seeing for most of the year, one which has accelerated over the last month or so. The euro had been trading at a discount since the Eurozone financial crisis erupted in 2010, in the face of existential threats and struggling member economies. Reserve and forex fund managers are now viewing the euro has having come through the woods, at least to a significant enough degree. Key currency today remains the GBP with risk of selling pressure following a no-change announcement , and downgrades to growth and inflation. I remain long EURGBP to 0.9000.
Fedspeak: Williams, September might be appropriate for an announcement on the start of the balance sheet unwind, He also said the median dot plot path (1 more hike in 2017 and 3 in 2018) still makes sense. He’s frustrated with the low rates of inflation but said the trend is still positive. The decline in the dollar isn’t a big factor in the inflation outlook. And he suggested the economy might need to slow a bit to keep price pressures in check. The gist of these comments suggests the markets might be too complacent with respect to another tightening this year. Fed funds futures are only showing about a 38% chance for one more hike this year. Rosengren hinted at a September balance sheet announcement, according to statements in a WSJ interview, where he said the markets are appropriately anticipating such. He added that the tight job market justifies rate hike plans as well. There is “reasonable risk” that the unemployment rate falls below 4% over the next two years. Mester supports gradual rate hikes despite weak inflation, reiterating her views on the topic. She views inflation weakness as due to “special factors” (drop in cost of prescription drugs and cell phone services) and not a general downtrend, but it may take a couple months to see an uptick in prices. Mester sees three rate hikes per year as appropriate to avoid overheating and reaching for yield, and anticipates further hikes and bond run-off as the economy grows “somewhat above 2%.” Bullard said he’s concerned over soft inflation, and added he does not support further rate hikes at this point. “I think for now we should remain on pause,” he said, waiting for data evidence of a turnaround in inflation. Further tightening at this point would likely “inhibit” prices from moving up toward the 2% target. Bullard is not a voter this year and this is not a new position for him.
Main Macro Events Today
- BoE – Three of the then eight MPC members voted for a 25bp hike in the repo rate at the last meeting in June (there are normally nine members, but one position was then temporarily vacant), and expectations are for 6-3 vote spilt this time around in favour to leave interest rates unchanged. With June CPI having undershot expectations, at 2.6% y/y after 2.9% y/y in May, and with concerns about the health of the key consumer sector, more dovish arguments will likely continue to prevail. There is risk of a downward nudge in growth forecasts in the Inflation Report, too, while inflation projections are likely to remain near unchanged. Carney in the press conference afterwards is always an interesting follow up. The data is at 11.00 GMT with the Governor on 30 minutes later.
- Initial Jobless – The weekly Initial jobless claims for the week of July 29 and should post a 238k headline, down from 244k last week but above the 234k headline in the week preceding that. Claims in July are poised to average 243k, steady from June and above the 241k average in May.
- U.S. Factory Orders – June factory goods should reveal a 2.7% increase for orders with shipments unchanged and inventories up 0.2% for the month. This follows May figures which had orders down 0.5%, shipments up 0.2% and inventories down 0.1% in that month.
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