Morning Bid: Summer cuts drifting away?

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 11:31 PM

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Tom Westbrook

After a 0.1% surprise on U.S. inflation sent yields and the dollar back to pre-Christmas highs, even greater focus falls on the European Central Bank’s perceived willingness to cut rates.

Markets expect no changes at the ECB’s policy meeting today, though it could signal that a rate cut is coming as soon as June.

Unlike in the U.S., data showed euro zone inflation unexpectedly fell in March. The currency bloc is in its sixth straight quarter of economic stagnation and the labour market is starting to soften.

However, with markets not fully pricing the Fed to cut now until November, flagging a move in June would put European policymakers in the unfamiliar position of being ahead of the Fed.

Prior to the U.S. inflation data, speculation that this might be uncomfortable, and that the ECB meeting presents hawkish risks, had supported the euro and, at $1.0745 in Asia on Thursday it has stayed above chart resistance at $1.0724.

The dollar’s big move higher has also turned the blowtorch back on the yen and the yuan.

The yen has weakened past the 152-per-dollar level that traders had been so keenly watching for intervention, hitting a 34-year low. Japan’s finance minister and top currency diplomat both said all options were on the table.

Neither, however, said whether the move was “excessive”. The yen rose slightly on crosses and to 152.82 per dollar.

China’s central bank pushed back against yuan weakness by fixing its trading band more or less steady, in spite of the overnight jump in the dollar – opening up the biggest gap between the fix and market expectations since at least 2018.

Fitch cut its outlook on China’s sovereign credit rating to negative on Wednesday and Beijing and Washington are at loggerheads over the effects of China’s perceived excess manufacturing capacity. China’s consumer inflation cooled more than expected in March and producer price deflation persisted.

Elsewhere, Lufthansa suspended flights to Tehran with the Middle East on alert for possible Iranian retaliation over a suspected Israeli air strike on Iran’s embassy in Syria. Brent crude futures are up 3.7% in April so far, along with other commodity prices, adding to inflationary pressures.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida unveiled plans for military cooperation and projects ranging from missiles to moon landings, strengthening their alliance with an eye on countering China and Russia.

Key developments that could influence markets on Thursday:

ECB policy decision


(Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sam Holmes)