European Stocks Slip As Traders Weigh Rate Outlook: Markets Wrap

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European Stocks Slip As Traders Weigh Rate Outlook: Markets Wrap

European stocks and bonds fell after European Central Bank officials poured cold water on expectations for rapid rate cuts even as data from Germany underscored the challenging backdrop for economic growth and corporate profits.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.5%, extending a lackluster start to the year after a 13% rise in 2023. Consumer goods and retailers led the decline after data showed Germany’s economy contracted for the first time since the pandemic last year. Germany’s 10-year yield rose about six basis points to a one-month high.

Lingering inflation and geo-political risks will prevent the ECB from lowering interest rates this year, even though a recession can no longer be ruled out, according to Governing Council member Robert Holzmann. He spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos after colleagues including ECB President Christine Lagarde and Chief Economist Philip Lane also warned that it’s too early to talk about trimming borrowing costs.

Traders are betting on six quarter-point cuts, starting in April, while economists anticipate a first of four moves in June. Germany on Monday reported a contraction of 0.3% in the fourth quarter and a decline in output of the same magnitude for the whole of 2023. Even so, Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel agreed that it’s premature to discuss monetary easing, suggesting no movement before the summer.

“We’re now getting at the stage when bad economic news no longer translates into good news for equity markets,” said Benoit Péloille, chief investment officer at Natixis Wealth Management. In the US as well, market pricing for as many as six quarter-point rate cuts “can be a stretch; bad economic news will start to hurt,” he said.

US equity-index futures were flat, with stock and Treasury cash markets closed on Monday for a public holiday. A gauge of the dollar edged higher.

Among individual stock moves in Europe, Dassault Aviation SA slumped after the French aircraft maker reported a decline in 2023 jet orders. Delivery Hero SE and Just Eat Takeaway.com NV dropped after BNP Paribas Exane analysts recommended steering clear of Europe’s food delivery sector. Volvo Car AB extended a decline sparked Friday when it said it’s temporarily halting some production due to shipping delays caused by Red Sea attacks.

The MSCI Asia Pacific share index climbed for a third session. Stocks advanced in Taiwan after the Democratic Progressive Party won the presidential election and the more China-friendly Kuomintang gained too few seats to control the assembly.

China’s CSI 300 Index swung between gains and losses amid speculation officials may lower the required reserve ratio after the People’s Bank of China unexpectedly left the rate on its one-year policy loans at 2.5% Monday. That was contrary to expectations among economists that it would trim the so-called medium-term lending facility by 10 basis points.

“Rate cuts are likely still on the cards, but China looks to be taking a more measured approach to policy easing,” said Marvin Chen, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong.

Along with more US earnings reports, investors this week will be focused on inflation readings in Germany and the UK, as well as a swath of political leaders and officials including Chinese Premier Li Qiang attending the annual WEF. A speech by Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller, after officials last week attempted to temper any expectation of a looming rate cut, will also be closely watched.

In commodities, oil declined as the risk that air strikes by the US and allies against the Houthis would ignite a wider conflict and disrupt crude flows from the Middle East was balanced by soft fundamentals.

Some key events in markets this week:

  • World Economic Forum in Davos begins, with this year’s theme “Rebuilding Trust,” Monday
  • Iowa Republican caucuses, the first nominating contests for the 2024 US presidential election, Monday
  • Japan PPI, Tuesday
  • Germany CPI, ZEW survey expectations, Tuesday
  • UK unemployment, Tuesday
  • US Empire Manufacturing, Tuesday
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley to report earnings, Tuesday
  • Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller speaks, Tuesday
  • China GDP, property prices, retail sales and industrial production, Wednesday
  • Eurozone CPI, Wednesday
  • UK CPI, Wednesday
  • US retail sales, industrial production, business inventories, Wednesday
  • Federal Reserve issues Beige Book survey, Wednesday
  • European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde speaks at Davos, Wednesday
  • New York Fed President John Williams speaks, Wednesday
  • Australia unemployment, Thursday
  • Japan industrial production, Thursday
  • European Central Bank publishes account of December policy meeting, Thursday
  • US housing starts, initial jobless claims, Thursday
  • Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic speaks, Thursday
  • Japan CPI, Friday
  • US existing home sales, University of Michigan consumer sentiment, Friday
  • US Congress faces deadline to pass spending agreement before part of federal government shuts down, Friday
  • San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly speaks, Friday

Here are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures fell 0.1% as of 8:05 a.m. New York time
  • Nasdaq 100 futures were little changed
  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1%
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.5%
  • The MSCI World index fell 0.1%

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2%
  • The euro was little changed at $1.0949
  • The British pound fell 0.3% to $1.2720
  • The Japanese yen fell 0.7% to 145.87 per dollar

Cryptocurrencies

  • Bitcoin rose 0.3% to $42,662.08
  • Ether rose 0.6% to $2,539.79

Bonds

  • Germany’s 10-year yield advanced six basis points to 2.25%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield advanced three basis points to 3.82%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.8% to $71.34 a barrel
  • Spot gold rose 0.2% to $2,052.74 an ounce

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