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Futures Jump To All Time Highs Ahead Of Fed Speaker, Econ Data Frenzy

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jun 24, 2021 - 07:54 AM

U.S. stock-index futures rose, with Nasdaq 100 contracts set for a fresh record and spoos just shy of all time highs, as investors were encouraged by dovish commentary form a barrage of Fed speakers which will continue today with Barkin, Williams, Bullard, Kaplan, Bostic Harker all speaking shortly after we get a slew of economic data.  At 7:15 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 168 points, or 0.5%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 20 points, or 0.47%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 80 points, or 0.56%, to a record 14,344. 10Y yields were 1.49%, oil was flat, gold was trading near session highs and bitcoin rebounded from overnight lows.

Big banks Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co added between 0.5% and 1.0% ahead of the Fed's latest stress test results to be revealed at 430pm ET today. Tesla rose 2.7% after Elon Musk said he would list SpaceX’s space internet venture, Starlink, when its cash flow is reasonably predictable, adding that Tesla shareholders could get preference in investing. First Solar climbed as the U.S. was said to be on the verge of barring some solar products made in China’s Xinjiang region. Mega-cap tech names Alphabet, Nvidia, Microsoft, Netflix and Facebook also gained between 0.4% and 0.6%, setting the Nasdaq for a record open. MGM Resorts International rose 2.7% after Deutsche Bank upgraded the casino operator’s stock to “buy” from “hold”.

Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today:

  • Retail trader favorites gain in premarket trading with Clover Health (CLOV) rising 5.5% and Sundial (SNDL) gaining 6%.
  • Daqo New Energy (DQ) drops 6.8% and JinkoSolar (JKS) slides 1.5% with the U.S. poised to block some solar products made in China’s Xinjiang region.
  • Information technology services provider DHI Group (DHX) surges 18% after the company’s board authorized a stock buyback program of up to $12 million.
  • India Globalization Capital (IGC) rallies 35% after announcing it completed the final cohort of its Phase 1 clinical trial on its tetrahydrocannabinol drug, intended to alleviate Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

So far this week, the value index, which includes economy-linked energy, financial and industrial stocks, and its tech-heavy growth counterpart are both up almost 1.8% following the Federal Reserve’s hawkish forecast from a week ago.

On Wednesday, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said the economy will likely meet the Fed’s threshold for tapering asset purchases sooner than people think, while his Atlanta peer Raphael Bostic said the central bank could decide to slow such purchases in the next few months. Despite the ongoing hawkish commentary, markets pushed higher realizing that the Fed can never again let stocks drop or else the entire ponzi scheme risks collapsing.

Indeed, stock buyers have shaken off the hawkish turn by the Federal Reserve and are now viewing it as a way to bring inflation under control, according to Sebastien Galy, a Luxembourg-based strategist at Nordea Investment Funds.

"The interesting development over the past few days suggests that the markets are in a temporary stasis buying on dips as the fear of missing out prevails," said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management. “This is evident in the rotation into growth stocks which makes little sense in a time of likely rising interest rates as they are quite leveraged, though not all." Still, Galy concluded that  “we expect equity markets to continue to rebound in the coming weeks."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index gained 0.7%, led by the banking, hospitality and tech sectors. L’Oreal rose 2%, approaching an all-time high reached last week. Vodafone dropped 3.2% after its shares went ex-dividend. Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • Tecan shares rise as much as 16% to a record after the Swiss company said it will buy Paramit, a U.S. developer of medical devices and life science instruments, for $1b. The deal is Tecan’s biggest ever, according to Berenberg.
  • Next Fifteen soars as much as 13% to a record as a trading update prompts price target upgrades from Peel Hunt and Berenberg.
  • BioArctic rises as much as 13% in the stock’s steepest intraday advance since June 7 after the U.S. FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for lecanemab, an investigational anti-amyloid beta protofibril antibody for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Crest Nicholson adds as much as 5.3% with analysts saying the homebuilder’s 1H results show trading remains strong and that it is making progress on its turnaround.
  • Vifor Pharma Group falls as much as 4.5% after the pharmaceutical company revised the endpoints of one of its clinical trials as the pandemic affected enrollment.
  • BT drops as much as 1.4% following the telecom operator’s enterprise business briefing, with UBS flagging ongoing headwinds, despite co. being “upbeat” on prospects for growth in the U.K. enterprise market.

In Germany, business morale rose by more than expected in June and hit its highest level since November 2018 on companies' surging optimism about the second half of the year in Europe's largest economy, the latest Ifo survey showed on Thursday. The Ifo institute said its business climate index rose to 101.8 from 99.2 in May, well ahead of expectations of a 100.6 print. "The German economy is shaking off the coronavirus crisis," Ifo President Clemens Fuest said in a statement.

The improvement was primarily driven by a better assessment of the current business environment, consistent with high-frequency data and the current conditions gauges across other surveys. Across sectors, services and trade saw the strongest acceleration in momentum as the reopening of Germany's economy gathered pace. Similarly, the Insee index measuring France's business conditions rose to 113.0 in June, also beating expectations, with gains concentrated in services and retail trade. Overall, the national surveys for June are consistent with our forecast of a strong rebound in economic activity in the second and third quarters.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks posted modest gains, supported by gains in Hong Kong, South Korea and India as investors assessed the latest remarks by Fed officials about the outlook for tapering measures. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1%, after dropping as much as 0.1%. India’s key stock gauges advanced to hold near recent record highs, with the country’s faster vaccination campaign continuing to boost investor sentiment. China’s CSI 300 Index also climbed. The country’s central bank increased its injection of short-term cash into the financial system for the first time since March amid rising demand for liquidity. Meanwhile, Thailand’s shares were among the worst performers in the region as pro-democracy protests returned to the streets and the central bank on Wednesday lowered its economic-growth outlook. “The overall picture is less dovish than it was,” said Ilya Spivak, head Asia Pacific strategist at DailyFX. “The APAC region is more sensitive, and we will see more volatility and downside risk because of companies’ exposure to dollar-denominated credit costs.” A gauge of 10-day historical volatility for shares has started flattening out after a spike following the Fed’s hawkish pivot last week. While a strengthening dollar is bad for Asian companies that borrow in the currency, some investors are expecting the region to be supported by longer-term Treasury yields that remain below 1.5% as well as attractive stock valuations. Among sectors, tech and material shares advanced, offsetting declines in defensives such as utilities.

Key Indian stock gauges advanced to hold near recent all-time highs helped by gains in information technology companies, while the country’s faster vaccination campaign continued to boost investor sentiment. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.8% to 52,699 in Mumbai after touching an intraday record of 53,057 on Tuesday. The NSE Nifty 50 Index also gained 0.7% to 15,790.45, near an all-time high reached last week. Eleven of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of information technology companies. “We are in the middle of a bull phase which will last for a very, very long time,” Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, a billionaire investor known locally as India’s Warren Buffett, said in an interview earlier this month. “India will also look lucrative when the U.S. Federal Reserve begins to withdraw stimulus, but there will be short-term disruptions.” Index heavyweight Reliance Industries dropped 2.4% following its annual shareholders’ meeting, where Chairman Mukesh Ambani announced ambitious plans for clean energy as well as the conglomerate’s telecom business. The company’s plans include investing 750 billion rupees in clean energy over three years while it unveiled the much-awaited smartphone that has been co-developed with Alphabet Inc.’s Google. The rally in Indian shares is also being driven by the country’s pace of vaccinations. The Indian government said 6.5 million doses were administered in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, taking the total number of vaccinations to 301.6 million. “Markets are looking comfortable,” said Sandeep Jain, a strategist with Tradeswift Broking.

In rates, Treasuries price action was choppy overnight, but yields broadly unchanged into early U.S. session with gilts outperforming following Bank of England policy decision. In 10-year sector gilts richer by 3bp vs. Treasuries, where yields sit around 1.487%. Treasury auctions conclude with $62b 7-year note sale at 1pm ET, follows solid 2- and 5-year auctions this week. WI 7-year yield at 1.26% is 2.5bp richer than May’s stop-out, which traded 0.6bp through. That said, futures volumes during Asia session were just 60% of recent averages.

“U.S. Treasury yields have stayed close to the lows and the equity market continues to project a path for growth and earnings that is impossibly high in the long-run.” JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it may require employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as Wall Street’s biggest banks ramp up efforts to keep thousands of personnel safe while reopening U.S. workplaces.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Index fell to a day low in European hours as the greenback lost traction against most of its Group-of-10 peers, though most traded in narrow ranges. Scandinavian currencies led an advance amid a general improvement in risk sentiment; the Norwegian krone advanced as the price of Brent oil rose a second day. The euro shrugged off a stronger-than- forecast German Ifo business confidence survey to stay little changed. The sharp repricing in the front-end of the euro’s volatility skew makes case for the common currency to extend its rebound, possibly toward the $1.20 level. The pound swung to a gain against the greenback before the Bank of England meeting, with investors watching for any signs of the central bank shifting its messaging on inflation risks, even as it’s seen standing pat on interest rates at its meeting later on Thursday: see Decision Guide. The yen edged down to another 15-month low after weakening beyond 111 per dollar on Wednesday before erasing losses on demand over the Tokyo fixing. South Korea’s won rose after central bank Governor Lee Ju-yeolsignaled interest-rate increases are in the pipeline.

In commodities, it was a relatively uneventful and uninspiring session for the crude space thus far with WTI and Brent August’21 futures somewhat choppy throughout the morning but very much rangebound after flat APAC trade. The benchmarks post gains of 0.10/bbl and are around the mid-point of today’s range which is much more contained than the parameters of yesterday’s session, for instance. Fresh newsflow explicitly for the complex has been light and as such its very much a case of waiting for next week’s OPEC+ gathering given the weeks source reports and updates on the geopolitical front. On this, attention around Iran is heightened as the IAEA agreement expires today ahead of a reported resumption in nuclear talks with the US from next week.

Spot gold and silver have been firmer but remain in close proximity to unchanged levels deriving some impetus from the downbeat USD once again though upside is perhaps capped as yields are slightly higher. Base metals are pressured this morning with increasing attention on commodities broadly in China given inflation concerns. Elsewhere, UBS looks for a copper recovery in the next 6-12 months believing the market could be undersupplied by 603k/T and 461k/T in 2021 and 2022 respectively; for context, Glencore’s CEO said.

Looking at the day ahead now, there are an array of central bank events, including the Bank of England’s monetary policy decision (discussed here), the release of the ECB’s Economic Bulletin, along with remarks from the Fed’s Barkin, Bostic, Harker, Williams, Bullard and Kaplan, and the ECB’s Panetta and Schnabel. Data releases from the US include the third estimate of Q1 GDP, the weekly initial jobless claims, the preliminary May reading for durable goods orders and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for June. Weekly initial jobless claims are expected to move back below 400,000 after last week’s surprise pop higher. This morning’s number may also show the impact of the gradual withdrawal of enhanced unemployment benefits from June 12 in some states.  At 430pm the Federal Reserve will release its latest stress test results when markets close, with the big six banks expected to pass — paving the way for increased dividends and share buybacks.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,249.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.6% to 455.82
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.6 bps to -0.171%
  • Euro little changed at $1.1934
  • MXAP little changed at 207.07
  • MXAPJ up 0.2% to 695.30
  • Nikkei little changed at 28,875.23
  • Topix down 0.1% to 1,947.10
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 28,882.46
  • Shanghai Composite little changed at 3,566.65
  • Sensex up 0.9% to 52,768.91
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,275.27
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 3,286.10
  • Brent Futures up 0.6% to $75.65/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,780.92
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 91.74

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • China sued Australia over anti-dumping measures on some Chinese goods, further ratcheting up tensions between the two nations
  • Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. created a global fixed income trading business as part of a move to boost revenues across its franchises
  • China’s central bank increased its short-term cash injection for the first time since March as it moved to soothe market concerns about liquidity conditions ahead of the quarter-end
  • Advanced economies may need to rely more on fiscal spending if they want to avoid Japan’s fate of being trapped with low inflation and an empty monetary toolkit, according to new research from the ECB

Quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac bourses saw a mixed and contained session following a lacklustre performance on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 and DJIA closed with modest losses whilst the Nasdaq Composite squeezed out another record close, but off its intraday best of 14,317 for the cash, and 14,315.75 for the NQ. Back to APAC, the ASX 200 (-0.3%) failed to benefit from the strong performance in its tech and mining names, whilst the Nikkei 225 (Unch) remained supported by softness in its currency, but the index is yet to convincingly breach 29k to the upside. The KOSPI (+0.4%) eked mild gains as a rise in June consumer confidence provided some positive omens. Hang Seng (+0.3%) and Shanghai Comp (U/C) traded within recent ranges as the region shrugged off the first increase in the PBoC's liquidity injection since March, albeit modest. In terms of stocks-specifics, Hoshine Silicon Industry shares slumped some 10% after Washington reportedly issued an order that blocks imports of solar panel materials from the Co. Finally, of note for the broader global chip sector, chip-giant TSMC flagged price hikes of 10-20% beginning next year, according to Chinese media. Finally, JGB futures meanwhile trade flat and in tandem with its US and German counterparts.

Top Asian News

  • Philippines Leaves Key Rate Steady Amid ‘Tentative’ Recovery
  • Japan Stands Pat on Economic Assessment as Latest Emergency Ends
  • China Sues Australia at WTO Over Tariffs in Hit to Strained Ties
  • Iran Poised to Miss Nuclear Monitoring Deadline Clouding Talks

European equities kicked the session off on a firmer footing (Eurostoxx 50 +0.9%) with sentiment bolstered by a marginally better-than-expected German IFO report (Business Climate 101.8 vs. Exp. 100.6) and economists noting that the domestic economy is picking up speed. Stateside, futures have picked up throughout the session (ES +0.4%) in tandem with their European counterparts. In the US, infrastructure talks continue to rumble on, albeit without causing much in the way of intraday price action. The latest updates have noted that a deal on the infrastructure framework has been reached among a bipartisan group of US senators; a meeting between the White House and the bipartisan group has been slated for later today. Back to Europe, sectors are mostly firmer and showing a largely pro-cyclical tilt as Financials, Basic Resources and Autos lead the charge. Travel & Leisure names will be bracing themselves for the latest travel update from the UK, albeit some optimism for the sector has been tempered this week after German Chancellor Merkel urged EU nations to introduce quarantine measures for vaccinated Brits. The most notable corporate update thus far has come from Siemens (-0.5%) who sit at the foot of the DAX with investors unimpressed by its latest strategic blueprint which saw the Co. increase its growth target and launch a EUR 3bln share buyback between 2021-2026. Of note for chip names, reports in Chinese press suggested that TSMC is to hike prices by 10-20% in 2022.

Top European News

  • London West End Landlord Expects Retail Crisis to Get Even Worse
  • Johnson to Convene London Summit as Capital Lags on Vaccines
  • German, French Business Confidence Jumps as Lockdowns Ease
  • European Insurance Stocks Undervalued, Berenberg Says

In FX, the margins are quite fine, but the Kiwi and Franc are at opposite ends of the G10 table, with Nzd/Usd propped around 0.7050 within circa 0.7070-0.6935 w-t-d extremes, while Usd/Chf hovers nearer the top of its 0.9236-0.9155 range. The former is also outpacing its Antipodean peer ahead of NZ trade data, as the Aud/Nzd cross trades under 1.0750 and Aud/Usd pulls back from nigh on 0.7600 yesterday amidst ongoing Aussie-Chinese trade tensions. On that note, the latest riposte from Beijing has come via the WTO in the form of a lawsuit against Australia over anti-dumping measures. Elsewhere, the Euro is grinding higher vs the Buck in wake of all Ifo survey metrics surpassing expectations and prior readings in June along with relatively upbeat accompanying comments from the German institute, but Eur/Usd remains capped into 1.1950 and perhaps conscious of hefty option expiry interest down below (2 bn running off between 1.1930-20 at the NY cut).

  • GBP/JPY - Sterling remains firm as the clock ticks down to high noon on Threadneedle Street, albeit not in great anticipation of a boost from the BoE given consensus for no change in policy or material shift in guidance. However, the MPC is widely tipped to be split on QE again with Haldane retaining his dissenting vote at this final meeting, if not joined by any other hawks – check out the Research Suite for a full preview of the event. Cable is currently straddling 1.3975 and staying technically bullish while above the 100 DMA circa 1.3949, while Eur/Gbp is back beneath 0.8550 and close to Wednesday’s multi-month lows around 0.8530. Meanwhile, the Yen has recovered from another retreat through 111.00 to give more credence to the notion that ample supply resides beyond the round number, and probably on behalf of Japanese exporters looking to hedge exposure. Moreover, option expiries at the 111.30 strike (1.12 bn) may keep Usd/Jpy in check and similar size at 110.75 (1.153 bn) underpinned.
  • CAD/USD - The Loonie remains tethered to the 1.2300 handle vs its US rival and still deriving a degree of traction from firm oil prices awaiting Canadian manufacturing sales for potential independent direction, but the Greenback appears more likely to glean fundamental impetus from a packed agenda including prime data, more Fed speakers and 7 year supply. In the interim, chart levels could be key and influential for the DXY as the index holds in a tight range (91.873-700) following its failure to maintain 92.000+ status and midweek shave with 91.500 that is just shy of the 200 DMA.

In commodities, a relatively uneventful and uninspiring session for the crude space thus far with WTI and Brent August’21 futures somewhat choppy throughout the morning but very much rangebound after flat APAC trade. Currently, the benchmarks post gains of circa. USD 0.10/bbl and are around the mid-point of today’s range which is much more contained than the parameters of yesterday’s session, for instance. Fresh newsflow explicitly for the complex has been light and as such its very much a case of waiting for next week’s OPEC+ gathering given the weeks source reports and updates on the geopolitical front. On this, attention around Iran is heightened as the IAEA agreement expires today ahead of a reported resumption in nuclear talks with the US from next week. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver have been erring firmer but remain in close proximity to unchanged levels deriving some impetus from the downbeat USD once again though upside is perhaps capped as yields are slightly higher. Base metals are pressured this morning with increasing attention on commodities broadly in China given inflation concerns. Elsewhere, UBS looks for a copper recovery in the next 6-12 months believing the market could be undersupplied by 603k/T and 461k/T in 2021 and 2022 respectively; for context, Glencore’s CEO said.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: May Durable Goods Orders, est. 2.8%, prior -1.3%; Less Transportation, est. 0.7%, prior 1.0%
    • Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.8%, prior 0.9%; Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.6%, prior 2.2%
  • 8:30am: 1Q GDP Annualized QoQ, est. 6.4%, prior 6.4%
    • 1Q Personal Consumption, est. 11.4%, prior 11.3%
    • 1Q PCE Core QoQ, est. 2.5%, prior 2.5%; GDP Price Index, est. 4.3%, prior 4.3%
  • 8:30am: June Initial Jobless Claims, est. 380,000, prior 412,000; Continuing Claims, est. 3.46m, prior 3.52m
  • 8:30am: May Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. -$87.5b, prior -$85.2b, revised -$85.7b
  • 8:30am: May Retail Inventories MoM, est. -0.5%, prior -1.6%, revised -1.8%; Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 0.8%, prior 0.8%
  • 11am: June Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. 24, prior 26
  • 430pm: Federal Reserve releases latest stress test results with all big six banks expected to pass  paving the way for increased dividends and share buybacks.

Central Bank Speakers

  • 9am: Fed’s Barkin Speaks During Virtual Event
  • 9:30am: Fed’s Bostic and Harker Speak on Monetary Policy Panel
  • 11am: Fed’s Williams Takes Part in Moderated Discussion
  • 1pm: Fed’s Kaplan Discusses Economy
  • 1pm: Fed’s Bullard Discusses Outlook for Economy and Monetary...
  • 4pm: Fed’s Barkin Speaks During Virtual Event

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

As investors digested an array of economic data and central bank speakers yesterday, US equities spent the day trading around their all-time records and Treasury yields moved higher as markets continued to readjust following last week’s selloff in various assets. In fact, for some areas it was as though last week’s moves had never happened, since although inflation expectations moved sharply lower straight after the Fed’s hawkish shift a week ago, with 10yr breakevens down to 2.24% by the close on Friday, they’ve since recovered +11.2bps over the 3 days this week to put them roughly back in line with where they were in the week before the Fed meeting. It was a similar story for equities, with the NASDAQ (+0.13%) eking out a gain to hit another all-time high, whilst the S&P 500 (-0.11%) slipped back slightly, but still remained less than 0.5% away from its record close last week. So overall, markets for now seem to be more relaxed again about the Fed and inflation risks, even if they’re still pricing in a faster hiking cycle than the Fed themselves indicated in the dots last week.

Paradoxically, the bigger risk-off moves came in Europe yesterday, where the STOXX 600 fell -0.73% in spite of some decent flash PMI reports from across the continent. To run through those, the Euro Area composite PMI came in at an above-expected 59.2 (vs. 58.8 expected), which marked the strongest pace of growth seen in 15 years for the single-currency bloc. That increase came as the services PMI rebounded strongly, climbing to 58.0 as expected (from 55.2 last month), whilst the manufacturing PMI remained unchanged from last month at 63.1. Germany in particular outperformed expectations, with their composite PMI up to 60.4, (vs. 57.6 expected) which is its highest since March 2011, whereas France slightly underwhelmed as the composite PMI only rose to 57.1 (vs. 59.0 expected). That said, inflation continued to be a notable theme and the PMIs pointed to noticeable price pressures in the Euro Area for both services and manufacturing.

Speaking of price pressures, yesterday marked another strong session for commodities as they were another asset class that continued to put last week’s selloff behind them. In fact by the close, Brent crude (+0.51%) hit a fresh 2-year high of $75.19/bbl, while WTI (+0.03%) was just short of its own recent high. The continued gains for oil come amidst a tightening market, with the EIA in the US reporting that crude oil inventories fell -7.61m barrels, which is the 5th consecutive weekly decline, just as various economies are reopening again in light of the vaccine rollout. Other commodities also made gains in addition to oil, with metals including copper (+2.38%) rising on the day, along with agricultural prices such as corn (+0.68%) and wheat (+1.57%).

Overnight in Asia, markets are trading mixed with the Nikkei (+0.16%) and Kospi (+0.41%) advancing, the Hang Seng (+0.04%) currently flat and the Shanghai Comp (-0.15%) moving lower. There were also fresh headlines on the US-China relationship, as Bloomberg reported the US is likely to impose a ban on some Chinese solar products made in the region of Xinjiang where China has been accused of committing human rights abuses. Elsewhere, US equity futures are pointing to further gains later, with those on the S&P 500 up +0.29%.

Looking ahead now, one of the main highlights today will be the Bank of England’s latest decision, out as 12:00 London time. In their preview (link here) our UK economists write that they expect the Monetary Policy Committee to remain cautiously optimistic around the recovery, keeping the policy rate on hold at 0.1%, and maintaining the target stock of QE at £895bn. They’re also not expecting big changes in the minutes and policy statement, but the risks are shifting towards a more hawkish MPC in the very near-term, with economic data tracking slightly better than the BoE expected in May.

Staying on the UK, there was a geopolitical incident with Russia yesterday in the Black Sea, albeit with the two sides offering different descriptions of what took place. Russia said that a UK ship entered waters it claims as its own and ignored radio warnings, not leaving until bombs were dropped on its course. But the press office for the UK’s Ministry of Defence tweeted that the ship was “conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law”, and said that they didn’t recognise the claim that bombs were dropped on its path.

There were also headlines on Russia in the FT, which reported yesterday that Germany and France had called for the EU to engage Russia more closely, building on the meeting that took place last week between Presidents Biden and Putin. According to the story, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron were in favour of inviting Putin to an EU leaders’ summit, and comes ahead of a summit taking place in Brussels later today among EU leaders, where the bloc’s relations with Russia are on the agenda for discussion.

Over in the US, there was some movement in infrastructure talks as a bipartisan group of senators will be meeting with President Biden later today at the White House to present their outline of a $579bn package on roads, bridges and other physical projects. The Senate leaves for a two week recess starting Friday, so this is likely to be the last newsflow on any potential deal until mid-July. While the Republican senators in the group have dropped a potential gas tax, there remains significant disagreements on how to pay for the spending. Some more left-leaning Senate Democrats continue to ask the White House and Congressional leadership for a promise on a second more expansive bill through the reconciliation process. If both bills make it through Congress, it could amount to $2-3 trillion of additional government spending.

Turning to the latest on the pandemic, there were further signs of concern in the UK as 16,135 new cases were reported yesterday, which is the highest daily total since February 6. And over the last week as a whole, cases are up +44% compared to the previous one. Nevertheless, there was some better news from the country, as data confirmed that over 60% of the adult population had now been fully vaccinated with both doses. Elsewhere, Switzerland confirmed that restrictions on entering the country would be relaxed, with those entering from the Schengen Area no longer required to quarantine, and testing requirements would now only apply to those coming by plane who’ve not been vaccinated or not recovered from Covid-19.Meanwhile, Brazil announced their largest one-day rise in Covid-19 cases yet (115,228) even as the vaccination programs have started to gather momentum. The country’s weekly case count surpassed India for the highest in the world last week, while much of South America is starting a new wave of infections just as their winter starts.

There wasn’t much in the way of Federal Reserve speakers yesterday, though we did hear from Governor Bowman, who didn’t discuss the policy outlook but said that the “upward price pressures may ease as the bottlenecks are worked out, but it could take some time, and I will continue to monitor the situation closely and will adjust my outlook as needed.” Otherwise Atlanta Fed President Bostic (who’s an FOMC voter this year) said that he’d pulled forward his projection for the first hike in rates to late 2022 “given the upside surprises in recent data points”. Boston Fed President Rosengren (an alternate voting member this year) later played down the risks of persistent inflation, saying his “expectation is that most of the price increases we are seeing this year will be reversed as we get into next year.”

Rounding off the rest of yesterday’s data, US new home sales unexpectedly fell to an annualised rate of 769k in May (vs. 865k expected), declining from a downwardly revised 817k in April. Separately, the current account deficit in Q1 widened to $195.7bn (vs. $206.2bn expected), and the composite PMI fell to 63.9 in June following its record high of 68.7 in May.

To the day ahead now, and there are an array of central bank events, including the Bank of England’s monetary policy decision, the release of the ECB’s Economic Bulletin, along with remarks from the Fed’s Barkin, Bostic, Harker, Williams, Bullard and Kaplan, and the ECB’s Panetta and Schnabel. Data releases from the US include the third estimate of Q1 GDP, the weekly initial jobless claims, the preliminary May reading for durable goods orders and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for June. Meanwhile in Germany, the Ifo Institute’s business climate indicator for June will be coming out. Finally, EU leaders will gather in Brussels today for a European Council meeting.

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