© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters building is seen in Frankfurt, Germany, March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/
By Yoruk Bahceli and Dhara Ranasinghe
LONDON (Reuters) – Rather than invent a radical new instrument to ease bond market strains across the euro bloc, investors reckon the European Central Bank might get away with cobbling together the best parts of schemes already contained in its policy toolkit.
The ECB on Wednesday promised fresh support and the design of a potential new scheme to temper a market rout that has fanned fears of a new debt crisis on the euro currency area’s southern rim.
Its statement sent 10-year borrowing costs in Italy and Greece sliding as much as 40 basis points, the biggest daily move since March 2020 for the latter. In a week when yields across the bloc hit multi-year highs, the immediate reaction was one of relief.
So far, the ECB is likely to attach some loose conditions to the scheme, sources told Reuters later on Wednesday.
The ECB will spell out that the scheme’s goal is simply to keep bond spreads in line with economic fundamentals, likely through quantitative benchmarks such as historical spreads, which then may be turned into a “traffic light” system to instruct staff on which country’s bonds to buy and how much, the sources said.
“I hope that they have the intelligence to design (a new tool) in a way that’s not too strict, keeping flexibility by purchases,” said Patrick Krizan, senior economist at Allianz (ETR:ALVG).
“The biggest error would be to be too committed and put themselves in a straitjacket.”
The ECB has already drawn criticism for being too complacent over the risk that its plans to raise interest rates would lift borrowing costs for financially weaker nations such as Italy too far above those of safe-haven Germany.
With the bloc clearly facing that fragmentation problem, it is important for any new bond-buying tool from the ECB to be flexible, investors said.
So just like the pandemic-era PEPP emergency stimulus scheme, it would need to ditch the capital-key principle of buying bonds in relation to the size of economies, instead buying debt from countries which most need help.
GRAPHIC: Italy-Greece (https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/lgpdwbwyjvo/Pasted%20image%201655302743622.png)
One suggestion is creating a new tool similar to the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) scheme, an unused crisis-time tool allowing for unlimited purchases of a country’s debt.
The main sticking point for the original OMT programme is the requirement to sign up for a European Union bailout, often with unpopular conditions.
“The political price is quite high for the current OMT, so the ECB cannot do this alone, there must be something on the political side to design an OMT-light, which allows a country to be a bit protected,” said Krizan.
Analysts said they would expect an OMT-like programme to come with conditions attached, but not ones as strict as those in the original programme. Sources told Reuters the upcoming scheme would feature loose conditions such as complying with the European Commission’s economic recommendations.
Aside from fiscal requirements, “the size will be everything, the maturities of the bonds they will be looking at, these are the most important,” said ING Bank senior rates strategist Antoine Bouvet.
The original OMT programme focused on buying shorter-dated bonds.
Yet another option is to design a package with traits of the OMT’s precursor – the Securities Markets Programme (SMP), which did not include the OMT’s strict, formal conditionality.
The SMP’s positive was that it also allowed the ECB to buy bonds, without adding to stimulus already sloshing around the system, in a process economists refer to as sterilisation.
For this reason, France’s central bank governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau has said bond purchases could again feature sterilisation.
The bank could also buy debt during a market stress episode, then sell gradually as conditions improve, thus avoiding increasing its overall balance sheet size, Villeroy has said.
The SMP had limited success however, and was terminated with a value of just 209 billion euros, not long after Draghi’s July 2012 “whatever it takes” promise.
Still, Piet Christiansen, chief analyst at Danske Bank, expects something along the lines of the SMP.
“Sterilised purchases have been our baseline all throughout and I think that is what is to be expected, because the SMP programme was done in a way so it doesn’t interfere with the monetary policy stance and the only way they could do that is by sterilizing the purchases,” he said.
Investors urged the ECB to unveil detailed plans fast, warning that otherwise bond market relief would fade.
“At the end of the day people want to see action,” said Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Prime Partners.
Euro gains traction ahead of inflation data, dollar steadies
© Reuters. A shopper pays with a ten Euro bank note at a local market in Nice, France, June 7, 2022. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
By Tom Westbrook
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The euro won support on Tuesday as traders braced for European inflation figures to run hot this week and awaited a speech from central bank chief Christine Lagarde, while worries about a recession kept the U.S. dollar firm.
The euro rose 0.3% overnight and at one point poked above its 50-day moving average. It last sat at $1.0578.
The dollar held modest overnight gains on other currencies and traded at 135.37 yen and $0.6936 per Australian dollar early in the Asia session.
German inflation figures are due on Wednesday, French data on Thursday and euro zone numbers on Friday. European Central Bank President Lagarde is also due to speak at the ECB forum in Sintra, Portugal, at 0800 GMT on Tuesday.
“This set of inflation data will have a significant influence on the ECB’s monetary policy forward guidance, especially on the trajectory … of its interest rate hike cycle that is expected to kick start in July,” said CMC analyst Kelvin Wong.
Hike expectations have the euro trading firmly against the yen and it last bought 143.28 yen, close to last week’s seven-year high of 144.24. It also has momentum on sterling and has gained 1.2% this month to 86.15 pence.
The weak spot is against the Swiss franc which has rocketed to test parity on the common currency following a surprise rate hike by the Swiss National Bank earlier in June.
Moves elsewhere were modest as traders try and navigate between relief that signs of weakness in recent global economic data can moderate rate hikes, and worry that it could be a harbinger of the onset of a difficult period of stagflation.
Some of the heat has come out of bets on U.S. interest rate rises, with the peak in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark funds rate now seen hovering around 3.5% next year rather than 4% or above, but the dollar has not yet fallen far from lofty peaks.
The U.S. dollar index struck a two-decade high of 105.79 this month and was last steady at 103.93.
The risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars have been left behind in last week’s stock market bounce. The kiwi was steady at $0.6306 on Tuesday.
Sterling was similarly becalmed at $1.2274.
“Stay long the dollar until some of the uncertainty has reduced,” said Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY) strategist Kit Juckes.
“The dollar will fall likely only when the global economy is on a more sustainable growth path … markets are forward-looking, but all we can see ahead today is danger.”
Currency bid prices at 0130 GMT
Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low Bid
$1.0579 $1.0583 +0.00% -6.91% +1.0586 +1.0571
135.3050 135.4600 -0.12% +17.63% +135.5850 +135.3000
143.15 143.35 -0.14% +9.84% +143.4500 +143.1300
0.9558 0.9562 -0.07% +4.75% +0.9567 +0.9555
1.2274 1.2265 +0.07% -9.24% +1.2283 +1.2263
1.2866 1.2872 -0.05% +1.76% +1.2878 +1.2858
0.6929 0.6925 +0.09% -4.65% +0.6938 +0.6918
Dollar/Dollar 0.6300 0.6302 -0.02% -7.96% +0.6307 +0.6293
Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ
UK’s Northern Ireland trade law clears first parliamentary hurdle
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A truck drives past a ‘money changed’ sign for euro, sterling and dollar currencies on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, in Jonesborough, Northern Ireland, May 19, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
LONDON/DUBLIN (Reuters) -Legislation allowing Britain to scrap some of the rules on post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland on Monday passed the first of many parliamentary tests, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed on with plans that have angered the European Union.
Despite some fierce criticism, lawmakers voted 295 to 221 in favour of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would unilaterally overturn part of Britain’s divorce deal from the EU agreed in 2020. The bill now proceeds to line-by-line scrutiny.
Tensions with the EU have simmered for months after Britain accused Brussels of insisting on a heavy-handed approach to the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland – checks needed to keep an open border with EU member Ireland.
Johnson has described the changes he is seeking as “relatively trivial” and ministers insist the move does not break international law, but the EU has started legal proceedings against Britain over its plans.
“While a negotiated outcome remains our preference – the EU must accept changes to the Protocol itself,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) after the vote.
Asked if the changes set out in the new bill could be implemented this year, Johnson told broadcasters: “Yes, I think we could do it very fast, parliament willing”.
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was one of several from his Conservative Party to criticise their leader.
“This bill is not, in my view, legal in international law, it will not achieve its aims and it will diminish the standing of the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world, and I cannot support it,” she said.
Ahead of the vote, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the bill would not lead to a sustainable solution and would only add to uncertainty in Northern Ireland.
“I am hugely disappointed that the British government is continuing to pursue its unlawful unilateral approach on the Protocol on Northern Ireland,” he said in a statement.
Johnson has a majority to push the law through the House of Commons, though the vocal group of rebels will add to concerns about his authority following his survival in a confidence vote on June 6 and the embarrassing loss of two parliamentary seats on Friday.
The bill will face a bigger challenge when it eventually moves to the upper house, the unelected House of Lords, where the government doesn’t have a majority and many peers have expressed concern about it.
U.S. stocks fall after recent big gains; oil, yields rise
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing protective masks are reflected on an electronic board displaying various company’s stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks ended a volatile trading session slightly lower on Monday after posting sharp gains the week before, while oil prices and Treasury yields rose.
Oil climbed following last week’s rout, as the Group of Seven nations promised to tighten the squeeze on Russia’s finances with new sanctions that include a plan to cap the price of Russian oil.
Investors have been hoping oil’s slide from three-month peaks hit earlier in June could ease overall inflation concerns and allow the U.S. Federal Reserve to tighten policy less aggressively than initially feared.
Still, data on Monday showed new orders for U.S.-made capital goods and shipments increased solidly in May, pointing to sustained strength in business spending on equipment in the second quarter.
Stocks moved between gains and losses during the session on Wall Street, with big growth shares leading the way down.
“It’s not shocking given we’re in a bear market that last week was a good week and this week is turning out to be a bad week,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which has about $50 million in assets under management.
But given recent strong selloffs, “flat to down a little is progress,” he said.
The S&P 500 earlier this month confirmed it is in a bear market.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.52% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.31%.
A further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China helped to support global indexes.
Treasury yields climbed after the capital and durable goods orders surprised to the upside, but the sale of two- and five-year notes was weak.
The 10-year note rose 7 basis points to 3.194% and the two-year’s yield, which can herald rate expectations, gained 6.9 basis points to 3.126%.
Brent crude futures settled up $1.97, or 1.7%, at $115.09 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude closed up $1.95, or 1.8%, at $109.57.
In foreign exchange, Russia’s rouble was volatile as Russia defaulted on its international bonds for the first time in more than a century, the White House and Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) credit agency said.
Also, the U.S. dollar edged lower versus its major rivals as investors weighed expectations on inflation and rate hikes. The euro was helped by expectations that the European Central Bank will soon raise interest rates for the first time in more than a decade.
The dollar index fell 0.058%, with the euro up 0.23% to $1.0578.
Cryptocurrencies stumbled. Bitcoin last fell 0.59% to $20,905.04.
Spot gold dropped 0.2% to $1,822.89 an ounce.
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