Let the festivities begin

Stock markets are ending the week on a downbeat note after central banks around the world largely adopted a more hawkish stance in recent days.

Only time will tell whether investors support the moves from central banks this week as much as they initially appeared to. More than a decade of ultra-low interest rates has been kind to investors and the path that many central banks have embarked on makes life a little harder for them, but not nearly as hard as high inflation.

It can be tough to take the pulse of the markets in times of such volatility and uncertainty, as we’re currently seeing. But I’m inclined to look at the way they’ve traded in the run-up to, and immediate aftermath of, the central bank announcements and deduce that investors are comfortable with the decisions that have been taken and view them as being in the long term interest of the bull market. What’s happened since may have more to do with the period we’re now heading into as investors prepare for the festivities.

A modest tightening is far more preferable than the risk of soaring inflation and a more aggressive monetary response further down the line. Central banks can’t afford to take those risks, not at a time when their economies are performing well, labour markets are tight and inflation is becoming more ingrained and widespread. The time has clearly come to address the inflation elephant in the room.

Take the case of the BoE. Many were surprised that the MPC raised rates on Thursday but if they hadn’t as a result of omicron uncertainty, they almost certainly would have in February and then multiple times next year. So while it could be argued that waiting for more data would have been prudent, it ultimately makes very little difference.

Especially with a move as insignificant as 15 basis points, one of the smallest hikes ever and the smallest since the late 80s. The message was important though; the tightening cycle has started and policymakers will turn a blind eye to inflation no more. A sentiment shared by many central banks around the world as we head into 2022.

Boost in UK retail sales unlikely to last

UK retail sales capped off an interesting week of data for the country that also saw restrictions tightened, virus numbers hit records and interest rates rose. The November rise was larger than expected while October was revised higher in a sign of consumers bringing forward their Christmas purchases in anticipation of stock shortages, perhaps even fear of more restrictions. The surge is not expected to last and recent developments could hinder retail sales further in the new year.

A strange end to the year for bitcoin

I keep falling into the trap of trying to link moves in bitcoin to events that are triggering responses across financial markets and it’s becoming quite clear how pointless that was. The cryptocurrency has been consolidating for weeks since its flash crash and everything that’s happened in that time that has been the catalyst for volatility across various asset classes has done little to pique the interest of this particular corner of the market. It feels strange to be talking about massive volatility in the markets and not including bitcoin. But then it’s been another strange year and I’m sure 2022 will be no different.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar: www.marketpulse.com/economic-events/

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

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
Craig Erlam

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