Business Standard

Economic data in Europe gets worse, ECB interest rate pause on cards

Wall Street futures also pointed to a bounce having been pressured on Tuesday by higher bond yields, which hit 16-year highs

Surging inflation, the euro’s drop below parity with the dollar, and an impression that policy makers are behind the curve are just some reasons for a big increase on Thursday

European Central Bank

Reuters LONDON
Weak European data sent the euro lower and sparked a bounce in bond and share markets on Wednesday, as investors hunkered down for results from tech darling Nvidia later to see if the sector's lofty valuations still look justified.
The euro fell to a more than two-month low of just above $1.08 against the dollar and a 12-month low against the pound after survey data showed German and euro area business activity slumped in August. [FRX/]
It was the fastest contraction in German business activity in over three years and prompted traders to firm up bets on the European Central Bank (ECB) now pressing pause on what has been a record-breaking run of interest rate hikes.
The view that borrowing costs may finally be cresting helped lift the STOXX 600 European share index as much as 0.5% as focus turned to U.S. PMI data later and Nvidia's results that could potentially reignite the year's artificial intelligence-fuelled rally in megacap stocks. [.N]
Germany's 10-year government bond yield, the euro area's benchmark for borrowing costs, fell to its lowest in almost two weeks at just under 2.55% before a minor uptick to 2.57%. [GVD/EUR]
"Generally the European currencies are underperforming on the back of the weaker PMI data that show that the economies there are continuing to slow," said MUFG strategist Lee Hardman.
"The market is now starting to question if the ECB will even do one more hike and 2-3 more hikes that were being priced for the Bank of England are now up in the air."
Traders scaled back their bets on an ECB September hike and now price in a roughly 40% chance of a 25 basis point move compared with more than 50% on Tuesday.
Overnight, Asian markets saw more focus on the weakness in China's economy and yuan, as well some gloomy factory readings from Japan, which also left sentiment fragile.
Equity markets were in wait-and-see mode ahead of earnings later from chip giant Nvidia following its frenzied stock price rise this year on the back of the boom in artificial intelligence (AI) as well as U.S. PMIs and revised payrolls data.
Nvidia's shares hit an all-time high of $481.87 on Wall Street on Tuesday, with options data showing traders are expecting a larger-than-usual swing in shares after the quarterly results which will be published later.
Analysts expect the firm to forecast 110% growth in third-quarter revenue to $12.50 billion. Stuart Humphrey, an analyst at JPMorgan, said some are forecasting $14-15 billion.
"This kind of number feels a touch high to me, but if it sniffs this - one could argue that into this print, it doesn't matter if demand will eventually decline next year - (it) still will be re-rated higher," Humphrey said.
SHRINKING FEELING
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan finished up 0.4%, although it was not far from a nine-month trough hit just two sessions ago. Japan's Nikkei also rose 0.5%.
Data there showed factory activity shrank for a third straight month in August, offering the first glimpse into the health of global manufacturing this month. The United States will also report its flash PMI readings on Wednesday, which are likely to show the factory sector remained in contraction.
The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield hit a new 9-1/2-year peak of 0.675% as investors took the Bank of Japan's decision to refrain from intervening to buy bonds as a green light for further selling.
In China, blue chips failed to hold onto Tuesday's gains, falling 1.3%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index held up better, up 0.3% after a 1% jump.
Iron ore prices rose 5% to a fresh two-year high on Wednesday, and coking coal and coke were up more than 3% in the absence of Chinese government directives to cut steel production.
Wall Street futures also pointed to a bounce having been pressured on Tuesday by higher bond yields, which hit 16-year highs. The Dow Jones fell 0.5%, the S&P 500 lost 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.1%.
Financial shares underperformed, with the S&P 500 banks sliding 2.4%, after S&P joined Moody's to downgrade multiple regional U.S. lenders.
The weak euro zone data meant Treasury yields were also down. Ten-year yields eased to 4.26% in early European trading, after touching a 16-year high of 4.36% a session earlier.
A jump in Treasury issuance, Fitch's credit downgrade three weeks ago and concerns China will dump Treasuries to support the yuan have added to a sell-off as investors await the Fed's annual summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later this week for more rate clues.
Comments from Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin raised expectations that Chair Jerome Powell would deliver a hawkish message. Barkin said strong U.S. economic data made the "re-acceleration scenario" possible.
In currency markets, moves away from the euro were largely muted ahead of Jackson Hole. The U.S. dollar was at a two month high of 103.8 against a basket of major currencies.
The yen hovered near a nine-month trough at 145.34 amid talk that Japan will only intervene in the market if the currency plunges past 150 to the dollar.
Oil prices were slightly lower. Brent crude futures dropped 0.75% to $83.75 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures edged down to $79.14, while gold was 0.3% higher at $1,903 per ounce.
(Additional reporting by Stella Qui in Sydney and Yoruk Bahceli in Amsterdam; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Mark Potter)

 
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First Published: Aug 23 2023 | 10:36 PM IST

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