Global markets edge higher ahead of US inflation data
CPI will offer clues to anxious investors on how aggressively the Federal Reserve will need to raise interest rates
Milan — European shares extended their bounce on Wednesday and bond yields held below recent peaks ahead of inflation data in the US that will offer a guide to how aggressively the Federal Reserve will raise rates.
Asian equities squeezed higher from near two-year lows and Wall Street futures also gained before the release of the keenly awaited data which analysts say could show inflationary pressures in the world’s biggest economy are peaking.
MSCI’s benchmark for global stocks rose 0.2% by 08.22am GMT after sliding to its lowest level since November 2020 on Tuesday on concern that the Fed tightening could further slow the global economy. The index is down 17% so far this year.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.7%, as did US equity futures, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 e-minis up 0.8% and 0.7% respectively.
Concerns about faltering growth, worsened by the latest virus lockdowns in China, curbed a sell-off in government bonds that saw 10-year US benchmark yields surge past 3% this month for the first time since December 2018.
“It’s an unanchored market where people don’t know where [yields] are going to. The growth side is coming more and more to the fore in terms of market concerns,” said Charles Diebel, head of fixed income at Mediolanum International Funds.
“If inflation continues to print higher and higher the market will continue to sell off. Intuitively, inflation cannot keep going up as base effects will unwind at some point but are we are that price yet?” he added.
Analysts expect the US consumer price index to show a sharp pullback in monthly growth, cooling to 0.2% in April from 1.2% in March.
They also predict an annual increase of 8.1%, 0.4 percentage point lower than the previous 8.5%, which was the highest reading since December 1981.
In Asia, Chinese blue chips rose 1.4% after Shanghai officials said half the city had achieved “zero Covid” status, and after US President Joe Biden said he was considering eliminating Trump-era tariffs on China.
Chinese data released on Wednesday however shows consumer prices gained 2.1% from a year earlier, above expectations and the fastest pace in five months, partly due to food prices.
US Treasuries pulled back in European trading hours ahead of the data. The benchmark 10-year note yield was down 4.7 basis points to 2.9421%, extending its fall from the three-year high of 3.203% on Monday. The US two-year yield, which often reflects the Fed rate outlook, fell 1.4 basis points to 2.592%.
Bets over aggressive Fed tightening has also supported the dollar this year. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six main peers, fell 0.3% to 103.65, below the two-decade high of 104.19 reached at the start of the week.
The Fed last week raised interest rates by 50 basis points and chair Jerome Powell said two more such hikes are likely at the US central bank's next policy meetings.
There has also been speculation that the Fed will need to go in for a huge 75 basis-point hike at one meeting and money markets are pricing more than 190 basis points of combined rate hikes by year end.
“The current problem is that the market is convinced the Fed is determined to fight inflation and therefore willing to tolerate market volatility and some demand destruction more than in the past. Personally, I’m less convinced of this determination,” said Giuseppe Sersale, fund manager at Anthilia.
Spot gold rose around 0.7% to steady at $1850.2 an ounce.
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