March 2, 2022
“The euro is under renewed pressure as increasing Russian bombardment of Ukraine’s cities and price of oil surging past $110 per barrel raised concerns among investors about a hit to Europe’s economic growth.”
Sam Cornford, Partner – Head of Trading
Joe Biden declared Vladimir Putin was “isolated from the world more than he ever has been” as the US president hailed western unity in the face of Russia’s attack on Ukraine and hinted at more economic sanctions ahead. In his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Biden said democracies were “rising to the moment” in their response to Putin’s war by imposing sweeping measures intended to hobble Russia’s economy and blocking the assets of some oligarchs. The president announced the US would be “closing off American airspace to all Russian flights”, joining the EU and Canada in introducing similar measures. Biden blasted Putin for underestimating the reaction of the Ukrainian people to the invasion, which began last week and has become increasingly aggressive as the Russian military targets civilians after becoming frustrated by slower-than-expected progress. With the price of a barrel of Brent crude surpassing $111, and energy prices surging, Biden pledged to use every tool at disposal to protect American businesses and consumers.
Rishi Sunak warned that the UK economy and public finances were “vulnerable” to higher inflation and interest rates. He suggested that tough decisions could be required in the months ahead. The chancellor said the government “can absorb some shocks and adjust fiscal policy as needed.” But with the deficit lower than expected so far, this financial year, Sunak is not expected to make big changes to taxation or public spending in his spring statement on March 23. The committee expressed concern that the government had contributed to the UK’s high rate of inflation, which hit 5.5 per cent in January and is expected to top 7 per cent by April. Sunak’s decision to increase National Insurance to bolster the health and social care sector had contributed to these inflationary pressures by fuelling high pay claims and encouraging companies to protect margins by raising prices. The chancellor ignored these criticisms in a response published today but expressed concern about the effect of higher inflation on the cost of servicing UK government debt.
Sterling is weaker than most major currencies in the early morning trade. Britain said on Tuesday it was pledging another 80 million pounds ($106.5 million) towards aid for Ukraine to help it tackle a growing humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, Britain said it had also imposed sanctions against Belarusian individuals and organisations over the country’s role in facilitating the Russian invasion of Ukraine. British shoppers were hit last month by the biggest price rises from major retailers since 2011, according to a survey that adds to signs of fast-rising inflation which the Bank of England is trying to tackle with higher interest rates. British house prices surged again in February, the latest sign of strength in the housing market despite the expiry of tax breaks on property purchases and a worsening cost-of-living squeeze. British bus and rail operator Stagecoach said on Wednesday regional journeys during the first half of February totalled 70%-78% of pre-pandemic levels, after Omicron restrictions were eased in January.
Euro is stronger against sterling and weaker against the dollar this morning. Ukraine’s besieged cities have come under more heavy bombardment after Russian commanders facing fierce resistance intensified their shelling of urban areas. As US president Joe Biden warned Vladimir Putin that he would “pay a price” for his aggression, the Russia leader’s forces have shown no sign of stopping an assault that has included strikes on the capital Kyiv and rocket attacks in the second city of Kharkiv, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people. Between 800,000 and 900,000 refugees will likely arrive in Italy due to the escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Fabio Prevedello, the chairman of the Maidan Italian-Ukrainian association, told news agency ANSA on Tuesday. Internet connectivity in Ukraine has been affected by the Russian invasion, particularly in the southern and eastern parts of the country where fighting has been heaviest.
The dollar is well bid against most major currencies overnight. As US President Joe Biden spoke about the need to support Ukrainians in their fight against the Russian invasion of their country, lawmakers and officials also showed their support for Ukraine through their attire. For the first time in months, members of Congress were not required to wear masks in the chambers to guard against the pandemic, a sight that could provide helpful optics for the president. Joe Biden announced on Tuesday night that the US is banning Russian aircraft from its airspace and pledged to go after Russian oligarchs in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. ExxonMobil said on Tuesday it will exit a major oil and gas project and cease investing in Russia, making it the latest western oil company to cut ties with the country following its invasion of Ukraine. Biden on Tuesday said his administration has launched a new initiative that will allow Americans to get tested for COVID-19 at a pharmacy and immediately receive free pills if they test positive.
US futures rose and European stocks wiped early losses, signalling the market selloff is easing after Tuesday’s slide. Contracts on US gauges advanced, with those on the S&P 500 erasing an earlier drop of as much as 0.6%. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed, with gains in commodity stocks offsetting a slide in carmakers and telecom shares. An Asian equity index shed over 1%. Oil rose above $110 a barrel before an OPEC+ meeting as the International Energy Agency warned that global energy security is under threat following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Bonds in Europe fell, paring some of Tuesday’s sharp gains ahead of euro-area inflation data. Economic risks are tempering expectations for how steeply the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. Markets have priced out any risk of a half-point March lift-off. Traders in the UK and Europe have also dialled back rate-hike bets. Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, is expected to signal that the US central bank will go ahead with plans to hike rates this month.
Main Economic Data/Central Banks/Government (All Times CET)
8:00 a.m.: U.K. Feb. Nationwide house price index
8:00 a.m.: Norway 4Q current account balance
9:00 a.m.: Spain Feb. unemployment change
9:00 a.m.: Hungary 4Q GDP
9:55 a.m.: Germany Feb. unemployment change
11:00 a.m.: Euro-area Feb. CPI
12:00 p.m.: ECB’s Guindos speaks
2:30 p.m.: Ukraine Jan. industrial production
4:00 p.m.: Powell testifies before House panel
4:00 p.m.: Bank of Canada rate decision
5:00 p.m.: ECB’s Lane speaks
5:00 p.m.: Russia Jan. retail sales; cargo shipments; unemployment rate; weekly CPI
7:30 p.m.: BOE’s Tenreyro speaks
9:00 p.m.: BOE’s Cunliffe speaks
Larry Fink and ex-BOE governor Mark Carney are among the speakers at an event hosted by Bloomberg, “Focusing capital on the long term to support a sustainable economy.”
Earnings include Kuehne + Nagel, Aviva, Just Eat, Telecom Italia, Sberbank of Russia, Dollar Tree