Draghi’s Words Mean Little to European Markets Expecting Action

Debt and money markets are readying for a cut to the European Central Bank’s deposit rate, regardless of what its policy makers say in public.

Traders are pricing in a possible reduction to the rate for holding overnight deposits, said UBS Group AG and Barclays Plc. ECB officials have declared it’s too early to expand stimulus and President Mario Draghi said more than a year ago that rates have reached their nadir. Economists predict changes to its bond-buying program, or quantitative easing, would come before any adjustment to more conventional monetary tools.

With inflation in the euro region once again negative, speculation has swelled that the ECB will tinker with policy, perhaps with the euro in mind. The currency’s recent appreciation has added to downside risks for growth and inflation outlooks, ECB Executive Board member Yves Mersch said. The central bank won’t hesitate to act if the inflation outlook weakens over the medium term, Mersch said Oct. 13.

Negative Rates

The deposit rate was set at minus 0.2 percent in September 2014, after first being cut below zero in June that year. Draghi said at the time rates had reached its “lower bound.”

Yields on Germany’s two-year notes were at minus 0.26 percent on Friday, meaning buyers would get back less than they paid if they held the securities until they came due. The market is pricing in at least a 50 percent chance of a cut of 10 basis points, or 0.1 percentage point, to the deposit rate, according to UBS strategists.

Two-year yields would move down to the new deposit rate if it’s cut, UBS’s Patel said. Five-year yields would move in step, keeping the spread between the two at about 23 basis points, while the 10-year yield would move less, he said. Any such action from the ECB should be supportive for short-dated core bonds amid the rise in excess liquidity, and so Patel recommends buying five-year French securities.


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Craig Erlam

Craig Erlam

Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA at OANDA
Based in London, Craig Erlam joined OANDA in 2015 as a market analyst. With many years of experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while producing macroeconomic commentary. His views have been published in the Financial Times, Reuters, The Telegraph and the International Business Times, and he also appears as a regular guest commentator on the BBC, Bloomberg TV, FOX Business and SKY News. Craig holds a full membership to the Society of Technical Analysts and is recognised as a Certified Financial Technician by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.
Craig Erlam