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ECB Hints at Super-Sized Hikes

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European Union

By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

European stocks are tumbling on Thursday as the ECB laid the groundwork for multiple rate hikes over the coming months.

In keeping with President Lagarde’s blog post a few weeks ago, the statement that accompanied the initial decision was very clear and specific as to the actions it intends to take over the next few months and beyond. What’s more, Lagarde was very clear in what it would take for the ECB to join the 50 basis point club in September – projections for 2024 inflation at 2.1% or higher – something markets are now taking as a given, with further super-sized hikes also priced in.

Fragmentation has been a concern in the markets and clearly within the ECB as well since its hawkish pivot. The central bank has a plan in place in order to counter this under the PEPP reinvestment scheme but insisted other tools will be used if necessary. Of course, that’s easier said than done and that is reflected in the widening spreads between Germany and those most at risk, like Italy.

All in all, it was another hawkish shift from the ECB, albeit one that was largely expected. Perhaps the central bank went a little further, especially in laying out the terms in which it would super-size hikes from September which was interesting. But in reality, the ECB doesn’t come out of today looking particularly good. It’s sat by and watched all year while other central banks have conceded defeat and made this move assuming its situation would be different. The reality is it never was and now it’s left itself a lot to do.

Oil steady as fresh Shanghai restrictions halt rally

Oil prices are steady on Thursday after surging once more in recent days. Fresh restrictions in Shanghai may be behind the rally losing steam, with China’s Covid-zero strategy the primary downside risk as far as crude is currently concerned. UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei alluded to this when he effectively referred to the reopening in China as being an upside risk for prices given the substantial shortfalls in OPEC+ production targets which currently amount to around 2.6 million barrels per day. ​

With the EIA warning of further hits to Russian supply over the next 18 months as a result of sanctions and an EU embargo amounting to around 18% of its first-quarter output (or two million barrels) – and that’s not accounting for the impact of the shipping insurance ban – the tightness in the oil market isn’t going to easily improve. Tight refining capacity is also further compounding the problem for consumers now facing record pump prices.

Gold choppy ahead of US inflation

Gold continues to fluctuate around $1,850, clearly with one eye on the US inflation data tomorrow and the Fed meeting next week. There isn’t really too much to add considering the price action of recent weeks. The yellow metal has been choppy at times but ultimately hasn’t moved in any considerable way, with $1,830 offering support below and $1,870 resistance above. Perhaps the CPI data will be the catalyst for the next explosive move.

Bitcoin awaiting a catalyst

It’s not often that I compare bitcoin to gold but the price action of recent weeks is hard to ignore. The cryptocurrency has bounced around $30,000 throughout that time and failed to generate any momentum above or below that level. We have seen slightly higher levels of volatility over the last couple of weeks but the end result is the same. Perhaps the inflation data tomorrow will be the catalyst it needs the burst out of its range.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Markets

Steady After Fed Minutes

The European session is off to a mixed start after both the US and Asia posted small losses overnight.

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By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

The European session is off to a mixed start after both the US and Asia posted small losses overnight.

The Fed minutes on Wednesday didn’t really offer anything we didn’t already know. Even those that leapt at the opportunity to buy the supposed “dovish pivot” are aware that this isn’t quite the case and the minutes really back that up. Not that they needed to as the Fed commentary that has followed has made that perfectly clear.

The central bank did stress the need to slow the pace of rate increases as monetary policy tightened further which most expected would be the case anyway. Of course, that is ultimately dependent on the inflation data allowing for such a move and the July reading was certainly the first step towards that.

It also referenced the risk of monetary policy being tightened more than necessary to restore price stability which could be read a couple of different ways. While it doesn’t suggest it will over tighten intentionally, the Fed is clearly determined to get inflation back to target and ensure the public believes it will.

The statement could therefore suggest it will act in a more aggressive manner than markets expect in order to deliver on that. Alternatively, it could indicate that the central bank is aware of the risks and may therefore ease off the break as soon as the opportunity arises in order to avoid tightening too much. ​

It also raises the possibility of a swift u-turn from hiking rates to cutting them as markets have indicated recently and policymakers have pushed back against. Needless to say, there are many more twists and turns to come.

A cause for concern or merely a blip?

The Australian jobs data looked pretty shocking on the face of it. Not only did employment fall by 40,900 – against an expectation of a 26,500 gain – but the drop in full-time employment was considerably worse at 86,900 which was then partially offset by a rise in part-time workers. All told, it looks pretty grim but as is so often the case, there’s a caveat.

This data was not in keeping with the trend that we’ve seen in the labour market data in recent months and there are numerous possible explanations for why the dip has happened. With the labour market still very tight and unemployment at a record low – helped there last month by a drop in participation – this report will probably be viewed as an anomaly albeit one that will draw more attention to the data in the coming months. Ultimately, it’s unlikely to deter the RBA from raising rates at the next meeting, with markets currently favouring a 25 basis point hike.

Oil steady after inventory boost

Oil prices are treading water following Wednesday’s rally which came on the back of the EIA inventory data. The surprising and substantial drawdown alongside record crude exports provided a boost just as the price was testing multi-month lows. There are numerous factors at play right now and we may be seeing traders taking a more cautious approach considering how close a decision on the Iran nuclear deal appears to be.

There remains plenty of doubt that it will get over the line but if it does, that could be the catalyst for another move lower and perhaps even take the price to levels not seen since before the invasion.

Gold struggling amid resurgent dollar

Gold is a little higher after slipping once more on Wednesday. It failed to get a sustained lift from the Fed minutes with the dollar quickly recovering its initial losses and wiping out any gains for the yellow metal. The US 2-year is not too far from its recent highs and the 10-year has also made moves higher over the last couple of days which could continue to pressure gold.

The inversion very much remains in play though which means there’s still seemingly a disconnect between what bond traders expect and what equity traders do. If the recession narrative starts to weigh more heavily on financial markets, gold could make another run at $1,800 and maybe even have more success this time.

Steady post-Fed minutes

Bitcoin is relatively flat on the day after losing more ground on Wednesday. It’s now suffered four consecutive days of losses and has fallen around 7% from its peak at the start of the week. By its standards, that’s not really anything to write home about and the trend of the last couple of months still looks positive. The difficulty is that the rally that brought it back to $25,000 has lost considerable momentum and that could begin to weigh more heavily on the price. A move below $22,500 may suggest the rally has run its course for now.

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Markets

Mixed Ahead of Fed Minutes

A mixed start to trade in Europe after a more promising session in Asia overnight where stocks may have been boosted by talk of more pro-growth policies in China.

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By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA

A mixed start to trade in Europe after a more promising session in Asia overnight where stocks may have been boosted by talk of more pro-growth policies in China.

That followed disappointing data late last week and early this from the world’s second-largest economy so the comments came at a good time. Still, we’re not seeing investors getting too carried away by comments alone, action needs to follow and small rate cuts from the PBOC don’t really fall into that category.

More misery for the UK as prices rise by the most since the early 80s

UK inflation hit its highest level in 40 years last month, with the annual CPI jumping 10.1% and the core reading 6.2%, both faster than expected. Double-digit inflation was inevitable but it has come earlier than expected which will leave households and businesses worrying about what that ultimately means for peak inflation later this year and how sustained it will be.

The data today has probably locked in a 50 basis point hike from the Bank of England as a minimum, especially when combined with yesterday’s wage growth numbers. Real incomes are still falling at a rapid rate but the central bank will have little choice but to persevere regardless and the economy will suffer the consequences.

RBNZ committed to tackling price rises as it raises the cash rate peak

The New Zealand dollar is trading a little lower on the day but the session has been quite volatile. We’ve seen some big swings in response to the RBNZ announcement despite the rate decision itself falling in line with expectations. The central bank now expects the cash rate to peak higher and earlier than previously anticipated, hitting 4.1% in the second quarter of next year, compared with 3.95% in Q3.

The RBNZ still firmly believes though that the actions it’s taken will both return inflation to the midpoint of its 1-3% target range in 2024 and not trigger a recession, although it did caution that the country will likely experience sub-par growth. That all sounds very hopeful but BoE aside, that appears to be the view of central banks still.

Fed minutes eyed as traders seek dovish pivot clues

There’s plenty more to look forward to today but the FOMC minutes naturally stand out. What’s interesting about them is that despite the supposed “dovish pivot” from the Fed, the commentary since has been anything but. Rather than talking up the prospect of falling inflation allowing for slower tightening, the message remains hawkish. What’s more, policymakers are continually pushing back against the policy u-turn next year that markets have been flirting with the idea of.

I expect any hawkish components of the minutes will be overlooked today and instead traders will dissect them for any additional dovish concessions that could further fuel the stock market recovery. That’s very much what we’ve seen in recent weeks and the decline in CPI last week only encouraged it.

Oil rebounds off support as JCPOA talks continue

Oil prices are edging higher on Wednesday, bouncing off technical support over the last 24 hours as Chinese Premier Li pushed for more pro-growth measures from local officials. There are growing downside risks as a result of the growth outlook and ongoing uncertainty around Chinese Covid restrictions.

What’s more, talks between the US and Iran are continuing around the nuclear deal which, if it gets over the line, could be a big positive for oil supply and therefore a negative for prices. There is no shortage of scepticism around the prospects for the JCPOA to be revived though but we may be reaching a point where that will become clear. For now, Brent appears to have decent support around $92.

Gold flat after a pullback

Gold is marginally lower on the day with focus fully on the Fed minutes later in the day. The yellow metal has been knocked back in recent days after briefly breaking through $1,800 resistance. It’s remained quite resilient though against the backdrop of a strengthening dollar and the FOMC minutes later could potentially reward that.

Could Fed minutes be the catalyst bitcoin needs?

Bitcoin rallies have struggled to generate much momentum of late, with $25,000 proving to be a strong barrier to the upside. What’s interesting is how shallow the pullback has so far been from that level which could be a bullish signal. Traders may be struggling to get on board with a break higher but they’re perhaps not keen to cash out either. The FOMC minutes later may be the catalyst it needs, one way or another.

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Crude Oil

Weak Chinese Data Drags on Crude Oil Prices

Oil prices extended their declines on Monday as weak Chinese data suggested possible slow demand

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oil-rig

Oil prices extended their declines on Monday as weak Chinese data suggested possible slow demand for the commodity in the world’s largest importer of crude oil.

Brent crude, against which Nigerian oil is priced, declined by $1.14, or 1.2%, to $97.01 a barrel after shedding 1.5% on Friday. The U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil depreciated by $1.06, or 1.2% to $91.03 a barrel, after a 2.4% decline in the previous session.

The unexpected slowdown in the Chinese economy in the month of July weighed on refinery output. Refinery output slipped to 12.53 million barrels per day, the lowest since March 2020.

“The official data suggests that oil demand is weakening as domestic logistics and consumer demand are deterred by the record high oil pump prices,” said Heron Lin, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Oil demand could stay on the downtrend for the rest of the year as the threat of COVID-19 restrictions encourages precautionary savings and reduces oil consumption, he added.

Saudi Aramco stands ready to raise crude oil output to its maximum capacity of 12 million bpd if requested to do so by the Saudi Arabian government, Chief Executive Amin Nasser told reporters on Sunday.

“We are confident of our ability to ramp up to 12 million bpd any time there is a need or a call from the government or from the ministry of energy to increase our production,” Nasser said. He added that China’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions and a pickup in the aviation industry could add to demand.

Oil prices rebounded more than 3% last week after a damaged oil pipeline component disrupted output at several offshore Gulf of Mexico platforms and as investors pared back expectations for interest rate increases in the United States.

Producers had moved to reactivate some of the halted production after repairs were completed late Friday, a Louisiana official said.

Energy services firm Baker Hughes Co (BKR.O) reported on Friday that U.S. oil rig count rose by 3 to 601 last week. The rig count, an early indicator of future output, has been slow to grow with oil production only seen recovering from pandemic-related cuts next year.

Global oil markets remained supported by tight supplies in the run-up to EU sanctions on Russian crude oil and refined product supplies this winter. read more

More supplies could come if Iran and the United States accept an offer from the European Union to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which would will lift sanctions on Iranian oil exports, analysts said.

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