February 9, 2022
“The Australian and New Zealand dollar are well bid today as investors priced in the risk of more aggressive action from central banks, sending local bond yields to three-year peaks.”
Sam Cornford, Partner – Head of Trading
The US is heading out of the “full blown” pandemic phase of Covid-19, Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said, as he predicted a combination of vaccinations, treatments and prior infection would soon make the virus more manageable. Dr Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top medical adviser, told he hoped there would be an end to all pandemic-related restrictions in the coming months including mandatory wearing of masks. In his most optimistic comments about the trajectory of the pandemic since the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Fauci outlined a scenario in which local health departments would lead the response to the virus rather than the Biden administration. Fauci’s statements added to a growing sense of optimism among health officials across the developing world that the Omicron variant may herald the end of the most damaging phase of the pandemic. More than 900,000 people have died in the US of Covid-19. While the country’s daily death toll remains close to record levels, new infections have begun to fall rapidly. Global Covid cases topped 400 million, more than two years after the pandemic began.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has previously said it would take half a century to feel the full benefit of Brexit, has been delegated by Boris Johnson to prove some advantages now, as part of a mini-reshuffle of his government. Rees-Mogg, the new “Brexit opportunities minister”, was told by the prime minister to draw up an action plan with “1,000 regulations we want to get rid of”, according to government officials. Johnson’s allies said deregulation was “at the heart of a new mission of delivery for this government”, but many business leaders are nervous that EU markets could close to them if Britain deviates too far from existing rules. Johnson has admitted that deregulation has been too slow; previous Brexit-related “red tape blitzes” have been criticised for coming up with symbolic changes, such as restoring the crown symbol on pint glasses. The redeployment of Rees-Mogg, shuffled sideways from his role as Leader of the House of Commons, was part of a wider attempt by Johnson to re-energise his ailing administration. In a sign of Johnson’s weakness, those blamed by Tory MPs in recent weeks for the chaos gripping the party were moved sideways, rather than being sacked. The new line-up puts leading Brexiters in main positions.
Sterling is well bid against most major currencies overnight. Channel ports such as Dover could “grind to a halt” for both traders and travellers this summer as the result of post-Brexit border controls. The warnings followed the publication of a House of Commons report that was highly critical of the government’s management of the UK border after Brexit, accusing it of “overpromising” and failing to hit its own deadlines. Meanwhile, the federal government’s flagship scheme to spice up productiveness amongst small companies has signed up lower than a tenth of its goal, resulting in criticism that the Assist to Develop programme excludes lots of the corporations it seeks to assist. NHS waiting lists will continue to grow for another two years in England, and in some scenarios could more than double to 14mn, despite a tax rise designed to plough an additional £30bn into the service. Johnson has been accused by the House of Commons Speaker of inflaming public opinion with his claim that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was responsible for a failure to prosecute the late paedophile, Jimmy Savile. Fighting for his political survival, the PM reshuffled some ministers in his administration to try to appease his lawmakers angered by a series of scandals.
Euro is stronger against the dollar and weaker against sterling this morning. Domestic critics of Emmanuel Macron, NATO hardliners and the leadership in Ukraine will be suspiciously examining the French president’s late-night remarks at his Moscow press conference on Monday for signs of freelancing. The Dutch markets watchdog has warned that retail customers usually get a worse price when their trades are sent to venues that pay for investors’ orders, adding to intense regulatory scrutiny of the controversial practice. Investors are growing worried that if the European Central Bank signals too aggressive a tightening in monetary policy, it could trigger the type of bond market tumult that worsened the eurozone debt crisis a decade ago. Government debt across the currency bloc has tumbled since last week’s ECB meeting, when President Christine Lagarde declined to rule out the possibility of a rise in interest rates this year as the central bank battles record high inflation. Hungary’s conservative government is increasing a pre-election spending spree, paying out the country’s largest pension bonus and giving families big tax rebates later this month. The European Union has announced a €43bn plan to overcome its dependency on Asian computer chip makers as governments and businesses around the world battle with a global supply chain crisis that experts believe could persist for much of the year.
The dollar is weaker than most major currencies in the early morning trade. US President Joe Biden plans to engage with French President Emmanuel Macron over Russia soon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday. The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill on Tuesday to provide the Postal Service with about $50 billion in financial relief over a decade and requiring future retirees to enrol in a government health insurance plan. Meanwhile, Biden announced that an Australian company that makes chargers for electric vehicles will build a manufacturing facility in Tennessee, while reiterating his commitment to turn the US government’s fleet of cars electric. The new plant will produce up to 30,000 electric vehicle chargers per year and create 500 local jobs. The US House of Representatives reportedly approved legislation to fund federal government agencies through March 11 and avoid a chaotic shutdown of many of Washington’s operations when existing money expires at midnight on February 18. New York Governor Kathy Hochul plans to end her state’s mask mandate for most indoor public places on Wednesday.
Stocks rose Wednesday and a selloff in sovereign bonds paused, bringing some relief for markets from the concerns about tightening monetary policy that have whipsawed assets this year. An Asia-Pacific share gauge jumped more than 1% to its highest in about two weeks, helped by Japan and a rally in a Hong Kong technology index. China’s stocks climbed in the wake of intervention by state-backed funds on Tuesday. US and European equity futures advanced after the S&P 500 closed near session highs. Dip-buying lifted the Nasdaq 100 and a US small-cap gauge outperformed. The 10-year US Treasury yield retreated from levels last seen in 2019. But bond markets remain wary as the Federal Reserve gears up to raise interest rates to quell inflation. A dollar gauge slipped. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan chose not to deviate from its planned bond purchases, holding fire even as yields continued to rise. Investors are weighing up still-robust corporate earnings against worries about a rapid withdrawal of pandemic-era stimulus. Data this week is expected to show US inflation continues to overheat, potentially stoking bets on a more aggressive Fed lift off in March. Oil held a drop as traders weighed tensions in Eastern Europe and the resumption of Iran nuclear talks. Aluminum traded near the highest level in more than 13 years. Bitcoin slipped below $44,000.
Main Economic Data/Central Banks/Government (All Times CET)
8:00 a.m.: Germany Dec. trade balance
9:30 a.m.: Iceland Rate Decision
10:00 a.m.: Italy Dec. industrial production
10:30 a.m.: Bank of Italy releases banks and money monthly statistics
12:00 p.m.: Portugal Dec. trade balance, 4Q unemployment
2:10 p.m.: BOE’s Pill speaks
2:30 p.m.: Ukraine Jan. CPI
4:30 p.m.: EIA weekly report on US oil inventories
5:00 p.m.: Russia Jan. CPI
6:00 p.m.: USDA’s WASDE report
Romania Rate Decision
EU foreign and health ministers meet in France
Earnings include L’Oreal, GlaxoSmithKline, Maersk, Deutsche Boerse, Sampo, Siemens Energy