Stock markets in Europe turned lower again on Wednesday while US futures are more mixed, similar to what we saw in Asia overnight. Conditions remain choppy in the aftermath of Jackson Hole last week.
There’s clearly a lack of conviction in the markets following a lot of hawkish central bank commentary in recent days. The narrative that investors want to believe is that inflation has peaked and is falling in the US and that a soft landing is plausible. That doesn’t necessarily align with what we’re hearing.
Add to that the increasingly hawkish language from other central banks amid severe economic headwinds and the reality of the situation is seemingly becoming impossible to ignore. With 75 basis point hikes now on the table for the US, EU and UK next month, among others, it may not be entirely surprising that investors are taking a more cautious stance.
ECB paying the price for dragging its feet amid record inflation
The inflation data from the eurozone this morning won’t have hurt the odds of a 75 basis point hike, that’s for sure. Inflation in the bloc rose 9.1% in August, up from the previous record of 8.9% in July. With core inflation also jumping to 4.3% from 4%, the pressure is seriously mounting on the ECB to be more aggressive. The central bank is paying the price for its decision to leave the deposit rate at -0.5% for as long as it did and may have to be much more forceful now as a result. Price pressures are becoming more widespread, with energy increases easing slightly but food, alcohol and tobacco inflation accelerating to 10.6%. The inflation situation is, unfortunately, going to get worse, perhaps much worse, before it gets better, considering what’s to come with energy this winter.
Gas flows halted, nervy few days ahead
Gas flows through Nord Stream One have now paused for the three-day maintenance period. While Europe is keen to stress its storage levels are well ahead of schedule, the failure of flows resuming on Saturday would be a massive blow ahead of what is already going to be a nervy and expensive winter. European gas prices are near their recent highs and will likely remain so over the coming days until flows resume. If they don’t, prices could rise much further.
Can bitcoin hold out much longer?
Risk assets are struggling in the aftermath of Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole, the only exception arguably being bitcoin which fell heavily in the immediate aftermath but has now found its feet. In fact, it’s posting gains of more than 1% today, bucking the trend we’re seeing elsewhere, with risk assets generally underperforming. Once more we’re seeing resilience in bitcoin around $20,000; the question is how long can it hold out if sentiment doesn’t improve?
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar: www.marketpulse.com/economic-events/
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