The steepest market sell-off of the year so far looked to be fizzling out on Tuesday, as traders waited to see if the head of the Federal Reserve and a number of top ECB and BoE officials give any new insights later on where interest rates are heading.
The Australian dollar had already bolted upwards after its central bank signalled it would keep hiking while the yen went galloping higher after some unusually strong Japanese wage data.
Europe started more mixed though with the euro and pound both fractionally lower and only London’s FTSE (.FTSE) making any real headway out of the main share indexes as BP (BP.L) became the latest oil giant to post bumper profits, reported Reuters.
There was plenty of time for that to change though with two of the ECB’s top policymakers, Isabel Schnabel and France’s François Villeroy de Galhau both making speeches, as well as two Bank of England deputy governors and its chief economist.
Then comes Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at the Economic Club of Washington during U.S. trading plus US President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.
“It’s still all about the central banks, you are still trying to understand their reaction function,” said Sahil Mahtani, a multi-asset strategist at investment firm Ninety One, pointing to whether borrowing costs keep going up.
The firm continues to expect recessions to take hold in major economies, mainly because interest rates in rich countries such as the United States have gone up at the third fastest rate since the early 1970’s over the last year.
“The market is positioned for a soft landing, we are positioned for a hard landing,” Mahtani said.
Asian stocks had mostly stabilised overnight after they, like most global share markets, had seen steep losses on Monday following last week’s strong U.S jobs data that bolstered the case for more Fed hikes.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) ended up 0.2% although Australia’s S&P/ASX200 (.AXJO) ended down nearly 0.5% after the RBA delivered its ninth consecutive hike and signalled more. Australia’s cash rate now stands at 3.35%, the highest in a decade.
Among the main commodities, oil jumped for a second straight session driven by optimism about recovering demand in China, and after Monday’s devastating earthquake in Turkey had shut down one of the region’s major oil export terminals.
Brent was up $1.74, or 2.15%, to $82.73 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate rose $1.70, or 2.29%, to $75.81 per barrel.
Despite the recent gyrations in bond markets, benchmark European yields on the 10-year German Bund were trading largely where they were was a week ago at 2.32% on Tuesday.
Italy’s 10-year yield was up around 5 basis points on the day at 4.198%, leaving the closely-watched gap between the two at 187 bps.
“Sentiment in markets is dominated by central banks and the repricing of rates yet again,” Kerry Craig, JPMorgan Asset Management’s global market strategist, said.
“Equities have had a strong run since the start of the year so seeing an air pocket emerge now is no major surprise.”