The return of interest rate anxiety

Further pain ahead?

A late sell-off in the US on Thursday is weighing heavily on sentiment around the globe with Asia ending the week on a negative note and Europe heading for a similar finish.

Tech was once again hit the hardest as interest rate anxiety kicked in. The rebound looked premature and yesterday showed investors don’t have the stomach for a sustainable rebound yet. I have no doubt the dip buyers will be tempted back in soon enough but we could see a little more pain before that happens.

The Nasdaq is looking a little vulnerable, to put it mildly. The failure at 16,000 followed by the severity of the sell-off is an awful combination and it suddenly looks very weak on approach to a big support level.

A test of 15,000 looks very likely at this stage and not only would this represent a 10% correction from the highs, most of which has come in the last 10 days, but a break would take the index below the 200-day simple moving average for the first time since the start of the pandemic. That would be quite the negative signal.

Of course, earnings season may have arrived just in time and some knockout tech earnings may be enough to tempt the dip buyers back in. Not that they typically require much. But given the level of interest rate anxiety in the markets right now and the sensitivity of tech stocks to it, it wouldn’t hurt.

UK GDP surpasses pre-pandemic peak

Growth in the UK was much stronger than expected in November, taking GDP above the January 2020 level for the first time since the pandemic hit. Consumer-facing services were a big driver of the outperformance, which is encouraging given the relative restrain we’ve seen during the recovery. However, behaviour is likely to have been more restrained in December as a result of omicron, not to mention earlier than normal Christmas spending, which should drag at the end of the year and early this. Still, a very promising report, even if the bump in the pound was relatively short-lived.

Investors seemingly not concerned by weak US retail sales report

The US retail sales report was rather disappointing in December, perhaps a sign of consumers being more restrained as a result of omicron, not to mention early Christmas prep in anticipation of supply issues. Markets seem a little directionless after the release, which could be a sign that investors don’t know how to take the data. A strong report would have been positive for the economy but also feed into the argument for faster tightening, which is not being particularly well received at the moment. A few weak reports may, on the other hand, encourage caution from policymakers.

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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