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ECB Searches for Stimulus Flexibility as End of QE Approaches



  • ECB Searches for Stimulus Flexibility as End of QE Approaches

The European Central Bank wants more scope to unleash monetary stimulus even as it heads toward unwinding it.

An account of the Governing Council’s July meeting released on Thursday shows that officials are still uncertain how to signal changes in their policy settings as the economic outlook improves and the need for broad-based bond purchases lessens. Reaching a consensus is critical if they are to avoid missteps as the institution enters a new phase of its multi-year battle to avert deflation and restore euro-area price stability.

Some policy makers signaled they are anxious to press ahead with adjusting the ECB’s forward guidance to avoid a “misalignment” between communication and the assessment of the economy, while others were looking for an insurance should the situation worsen. They argued for “more policy space and flexibility” to adjust stimulus “if and when needed, in either direction” in response to any overreaction to economic improvements in financial markets.

“The ECB is aware of the fact that some changes to the current policy stance are about to come,” said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING-Diba in Frankfurt. The comments “fit into the picture of an ECB which wants to steer and moderate the process toward tapering extremely cautiously.”

With euro-area inflation at just 1.3 percent compared with a goal of just under 2 percent, officials have all reason to be careful. One risk weighing on policy makers’ minds is the strengthening currency, which depresses import prices and so curbs inflation, as the account of the meeting made clear.

“Regarding exchange rates, while it was remarked that the appreciation of the euro to date could be seen in part as reflecting changes in relative fundamentals in the euro area vis-à-vis the rest of the world, concerns were expressed about the risk of the exchange rate overshooting in the future.”

The July meeting came just a few weeks after Draghi himself sent the euro soaring when he said in a speech in Sintra, Portugal, that reflationary forces have returned. The latest call for flexibility was accompanied by a desire among officials to avoid such market disruptions as far as possible.

“It was generally judged paramount at this stage to avoid sending signals that could be prone to over-interpretation and might prove premature.”

While the account gave little indication as to policy makers’ intentions, it did offer one clue on how the ECB might communicate a QE exit — by explicitly tying its accommodation to the full range of its possible measures rather than the current heavy weighting toward the asset-purchase program, which currently spends 60 billion euros ($70 billion) a month on debt and is set to run until the end of the year — unless the central bank extends it.

“The Governing Council’s assessment of progress regarding a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation should apply to the overall design and direction of the ECB’s monetary policy stance as a whole, and not with reference to any particular instrument in isolation, such as the duration and pace of APP asset purchases.”

Should President Mario Draghi wish to clarify the ECB’s thinking, he has at least two platforms to do so before the Sept. 7 policy meeting. He’ll address a conference in Germany on Aug. 23, and two days later attends the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Jackson Hole symposium.

“A decision is going to come by October,” said Florian Hense, an economist at Berenberg in London. “Depending on how inflation is doing until then and the currency and the economy, that’s going to determine how quickly they taper.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin



Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges

Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.

The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.

The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.

We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.

Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.

Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.

In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.


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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Extend Gains to $64.32 Ahead of OPEC+ Meeting




Oil Prices Rise to $64.32 Amid Expected Output Extension

Oil prices extended gains during the early hours of Thursday trading session amid the possibility that OPEC+ producers might not increase output at a key meeting scheduled for later in the day and the drop in U.S refining.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, gained 0.4 percent or 27 cents to $64.32 per barrel as at 7:32 am Nigerian time on Thursday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate gained 19 cents or 0.3 percent to $61.47 a barrel.

“Prices hinge on Russia’s and Saudi Arabia’s preference to add more crude oil production,” said Stephen Innes, global market strategist at Axi. “Perhaps more interesting is the lack of U.S. shale response to the higher crude oil prices, which is favourable for higher prices.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies, together known as OPEC+, are looking to extend production cuts into April against expected output increase due to the fragile state of the global oil market.

Oil traders and businesses had been expecting the oil cartel to ease production by around 500,000 barrels per day since January 2021 but because of the coronavirus risk and rising global uncertainties, OPEC+ was forced to role-over production cuts until March. Experts now expect that this could be extended to April given the global situation.

“OPEC+ is currently meeting to discuss its current supply agreement. This raised the spectre of a rollover in supply cuts, which also buoyed the market,” ANZ said in a report.

Meanwhile, U.S crude oil inventories rose by more than a record 21 million barrels last week as refining plunged to a record-low amid Texas weather that knocked out power from homes.

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Crude Oil

Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend




Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend

Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.

Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.

The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.

Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.

“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.


  • West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
  • Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16

Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.

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