March 25, 2022
“British consumer confidence plummeted to levels last seen in November 2020, deep in the coronavirus pandemic, due to concerns about rampant inflation, higher interest rates, and the ongoing war in Ukraine – the GfK Consumer Confidence Index fell for the fourth month in a row to -31, from -26.”
Tim Hallinan – Trading Director
Joe Biden has said the US and its allies are prepared to respond with proportionate severity if Russia uses chemical weapons during its invasion of Ukraine, as he urged the west to sustain pressure on Vladimir Putin and remain unified in its response to the war. “The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use,” the US president said at a press conference. Biden was speaking after he met leaders of NATO members to debate the appropriate response to the possible use of weapons of mass destruction by Russia, as well as military aid for Ukraine and tighter sanctions on Moscow. The NATO summit, called by the US president at short notice, was Biden’s first stop on a multi-day trip to Europe intended to fortify opposition to Putin’s war on Ukraine, as the increasingly brutal invasion is set to enter its fifth week. Further, the president warned that the world will experience food shortages as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Rough weather ahead. That was the message from Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement this week. While the chancellor highlighted the support he was giving to many hard-pressed households, the reality is that most people will suffer a financial battering in the coming years as the UK suffers the toughest squeeze since the aftermath of the second world war. Sunak had few surprises for investors. Money managers took Wednesday’s updated economic forecasts with a grain of salt, given that the full power of the economic shockwaves from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have yet to be measured. For many strategists, the statement also underscored the dilemma for the government and the Bank of England between the need to support growth and household finances and the imperative not to drive inflation any higher. But despite the clouded outlook, Hobbs urged savers to “stay as calm as possible” and not fixate on short term market movements.
Sterling is stronger against the dollar and weaker against the euro this morning. British consumer confidence sank to levels last seen in late 2020 this month due to worries about galloping inflation, higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine, a survey has revealed. The GfK Consumer Confidence Index fell for the fourth month in a row to -31 from -26 in February, its lowest since November 2020, deep in the coronavirus pandemic. The chief executive of P&O Ferries caused uproar as he admitted to breaking the law by firing the company’s entire UK crew without notice or consultation. Giving evidence to UK MPs yesterday, Peter Hebblethwaite was asked if he had “wilfully” broken the law by paying off almost 800 staff instead of launching a formal consultation as the law requires, he said: “There’s absolutely no doubt that we were required to consult with the unions. We chose not to do that … and will compensate everybody in full for that.” MPs accused the company of “thuggery” and “behaving like gangsters”.
The euro is well bid against most major currencies overnight. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Europe, once more, to by-no-means hesitate to curb Vladimir Putin’s aggression, as Ukraine’s navy warned Russia was regrouping for a renewed offensive on its capital Kyiv. In a late-night tackle to an EU summit, the Ukrainian president thanked Europe’s leaders for adopting “highly effective” sanctions towards Moscow however urged them to go further and break the sample of being “a little bit too late”. Russian ex-president and deputy head of security council Dmitry Medvedev was quoted claiming that it is “foolish” to believe that Western sanctions against Russian businesses could have any effect on the Moscow government, sparking concerns of an escalation in the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, almost three-quarters of the United Nations General Assembly has voted to demand aid access and civilian protection in Ukraine, whilst criticising Russia for creating a “dire” humanitarian situation.
The dollar is weaker than most major currencies in the early morning trade. The dollar’s share of global reserve currencies has been in steady decline over the past 20 years as central banks turn to non-traditional currencies, including the Chinese Yuan to diversify their holdings. Reserve managers have moved out of dollars in two directions, with one quarter headed into the Chinese Yuan, and three quarters into currencies of smaller countries that have traditionally played a limited role as reserve assets. The Biden administration plans to reinstate exemptions from Trump-era tariffs on about two-thirds of Chinese products that were previously granted waivers, most of which expired by the end of 2020. The US Chamber of Commerce has asked that the duty exclusions be reinstated, and the scope of the exemption process broadened. Two bids backed by US billionaires have become the frontrunners to win the £3bn race to purchase Chelsea football club, which is rushing to replace its Russian oligarch owner Roman Abramovich who has been hit with sanctions.
US stocks gained as investors weighed economic resilience against the threats of rising rates and the impact of the war in Ukraine. The S&P 500 advanced, clawing back Wednesday’s losses as all the 11 main industry groups rose. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 gained the most among major benchmarks, climbing 2.2%. Treasuries resumed their slide, with the 10-year benchmark yield rising as much as 10 basis points to 2.39%. Oil fell about 3% in New York, while Bitcoin climbed to a three-week high. While bonds have suffered unprecedented losses globally, shares have rallied to levels seen before the start of the war in Ukraine. Investors are selling bonds as Federal Reserve officials warn steeper rate hikes may be necessary to subdue the hottest inflation in four decades. Fed Chair Jerome Powell explicitly put a half-point hike on the table in May if needed, saying the economy is strong enough to weather higher borrowing costs.
Main Economic Data/Central Banks/Government (All Times CET)
6:30 a.m.: Netherlands 4Q GDP
8:00 a.m.: UK Feb. Retail Sales
8:00 a.m.: Sweden Feb. PPI
8:00 a.m.: Denmark Feb. Retail Sales
9:00 a.m.: Spain Feb. PPI
9:00 a.m.: Russia Money Supply Narrow Definition
9:00 a.m.: Hungary Feb. Unemployment Rate
10:00 a.m.: Euro-Area Feb. M3 Money Supply
10:00 a.m.: Germany March IFO survey
10:00 a.m.: Italy March Consumer, Manufacturing Confidence and Economic Sentiment
10:30 a.m.: Norges Bank’s Wolden Bache speaks
Earnings include Smiths Group, Meituan