Marketmind: Inflation in focus, bitcoin buoyant

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 11:41 PM

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Kevin Buckland

European investors are due for a super-sized helping of inflation data, with a side of bitcoin, on a day when Asian equities offered few trading cues and currencies were stable – with the notable exception of the Japanese yen.

The menu includes CPI figures from across the German states, France and Spain, ahead of euro area figures due on Friday. In between is the main course: the U.S. Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of consumer prices, the PCE deflator.

Rates bets were on the move on Thursday, but not for Europe or the U.S., where over the first two months of this year, traders have already aggressively paired back expectations on how soon interest rate cuts will come.

Instead, Bank of Japan board member Hajime Takata turbo-charged the yen with a speech expounding the need to overhaul ultra-easy stimulus settings, sending the currency soaring some 0.7% to push through the closely watched 150 level for the first time in more than a week.

Most other markets were content to sit tight ahead of the key data, with a modicum of calm even returning to bitcoin after its three-day, 24% rocket ride to a more than two-year peak at $63,933.

Japanese and Chinese equities went opposite directions, with the Nikkei continuing to cool following its surge to an all-time high, while the CSI 300 bounced back from the prior day’s losses to again sit close to three-month highs ahead of the annual session of the National People’s Congress next week, when growth targets will be set and a stimulus path charted.

In another Asian development that might interest global investors in Thailand’s tourist industry, the country plans to this year roll back trailblazing legislation from 2022 that made recreational marijuana legal.

Key developments that could influence markets on Thursday:

-German states, France, Spain CPI (Feb)

-France, Switzerland, Sweden GDP

-U.S. PCE deflator (Jan)

(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Christopher Cushing)