Tue, May 30, 2023 @ 04:31 GMT
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Sunset Market Commentary


Market sentiment is subject to quite some wild swings. Last week, investors panicked that aggressive CB (especially Fed) rate hikes to address elevated (core) inflation would inevitably slow growth, triggering a sharp risk-off correction annex decline in core bond yields. Both factors currently are again moving the opposite way. Equities, European indices in particular, are rebounding. The Eurostoxx50 today gains another 1.4%. US indices open up to 1.9% higher (Nasdaq). We see this mainly as a corrective rebound. Recent eco data were mixed. Today, US April retail sales were much stronger than expected with core/control group sales rising 1.0% M/M and with March sales sharply upwardly revised. However, US consumer confidence (Friday) and the Empire manufacturing (yesterday) recently missed consensus by a wide margin. Whatever, markets see the glass again half full rather than half empty. Despite a mixed outlook on growth, central bankers reiterate that they can’t but give priority to prevent a de-anchoring of inflation expectations. This was one of the key take-aways from yesterday’s hearing of BoE members before a Treasury committee. Their view was supported by solid UK labour market data and higher than expected wages published this morning. In EMU, Q1 growth was upwardly revised from 0.2% Q/Q to 0.3% Q/Q. This is a backward looking indicator and won’t change the ECB’s assessment in any profound way. Even so, it gives some comfort for ECB policy makers who cautiously joined the scenario of a July rate hike of late. Dutch ECB member Knot, a well-known hawk, estimated the time ripe to air the idea of 50 bps ECB step if necessary. Both in EMU and the UK, the curve bear flattens. German are rising between 13 bps (2-y, corrected for a benchmark change) and 9 bps (30-y). 10-y intra-EMU spreads hardly change, with Greece the exception to the rule (-7 bps). UK yields are jumping between 19 bps (2-y) and 10 bps (30-y). US bond markets outperform the UK and Germany with yields rebounding between 9 bps (5-y/10-y) and 6 bps (30-y). As said, panic on growth (temporarily) subsided. Inflation is again in focus. However, it wouldn’t surprise us to see new pockets of uncertainty on growth resurface in the (near) future. Later today, ECB’s Lagarde and Fed Chair Powell are still scheduled to speak.

We haven’t seen it for a while, but FX markets today show a combination of both euro strength and a USD weakness, or at least correction. After a rejected test of the 105 area end last week, the DXY trade-weighted index (103.50) eases further. USD/JPY is the exception to the USD correction (129.75 from an open of 129.16). However, the risk-on and the comments from ECB’s Knot finally give the single currency some breathing space. The pair regains the 105 handle. To call off the downside alert EUR/USD needs to regain 1.0642 early May top. Sterling had a strong start this morning supported by solid labour market data including higher than expected wage growth. This supported BoE Bailey’s case to continue to raise rates, even given the risk for a sharp cooling of growth further down the road. EUR/GBP tested the 0.84 area. However, during the day, the euro strength also came in play. In addition, UK foreign Secretary Lizz Truss formally revealed UK plans to unilaterally change parts of the Northern Ireland protocol also didn’t help sterling. EUR/GBP currently trades again in the 0.8450 area.  News Headlines

Hungarian first quarter GDP was stronger than expected, printing at 2.1% q/q (1.5% expected), matching almost the upwardly revised 2.2% of Q4 last year. The economy is now 8.2% bigger in yearly terms. The flash reading only provides details on the sector level. All sectors contributed to the increase, the Hungarian statistical office said, but mostly industry and market services. The strong growth probably received a boost from PM Orban’s pre-election spending spree and may be unsustainable for coming quarters. Hungary’s forint strengthens today though that is at least equally as much inspired by the broad risk-on. EUR/HUF eases from near-record lows at 390 to 386.86. GDP in Poland added a lofty 2.4% q/q in Q1 to be up 9.1% compared to the same quarter last year. There are no decomposition tables available yet. The zloty appreciates in lockstep with other CE currencies. EUR/PLN drifts to 4.64, the lowest level since end April.

KBC Bank
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This non-exhaustive information is based on short-term forecasts for expected developments on the financial markets. KBC Bank cannot guarantee that these forecasts will materialize and cannot be held liable in any way for direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this document or its content. The document is not intended as personalized investment advice and does not constitute a recommendation to buy, sell or hold investments described herein. Although information has been obtained from and is based upon sources KBC believes to be reliable, KBC does not guarantee the accuracy of this information, which may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions and estimates constitute a KBC judgment as of the data of the report and are subject to change without notice.

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