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Reading the market tea-leaves for global recession risks

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, New York, U.S., October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri//File Photo

By Dhara Ranasinghe, Sujata Rao and Yoruk Bahceli

LONDON (Reuters) – The fastest rate-hiking cycle in decades and inflation nearing double-digits has got investors scouring market moves and data to gauge whether the world economy is headed for recession.

Business activity is slowing, many stock indexes are in “bear” territory, while higher borrowing costs are squeezing corporate and consumer spending.

The U.S. Federal Reserve last week upped interest rates by 75 basis points, its biggest single rate hike since 1994, and has signalled its commitment to containing price pressures even if it brings about a growth downturn.

“Inflation is still rising and that means the Fed will hike more and move more rapidly, which will put downward pressure on the economy, so that’s adding to recession fears,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principle Global Investors.

“There are also growing signs of economic weakness coming earlier than expected.”

The World Bank currently expects 2022 global growth at 2.9%.

Here is what some closely-watched indicators are saying about recession risks.

1/ OLD FAVOURITE

The U.S. Treasury yield curve has a track record of predicting recessions, especially when two-year yields rise above 10-year maturities.

At around 5 basis points (bps), the spread between the two segments has flitted in and out of negative territory recently, so recession watchers are paying attention.

The U.S. bond yield curve https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/movanryqnpa/recession2406.PNG

The concern is that the Fed, facing 8%-plus inflation, will take monetary policy into what economists call restrictive territory, slowing economic activity.

“Chances the Fed can land on that narrow strip of safe ground are very remote,” Mizuho senior economist Colin Asher said.

Money markets, having slashed bets on how high the Fed will take interest rates, now expect rates to fall about 20 bps between April and July 2023.

2/ PMI PROBLEMS

Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMI) are reliable predictors of manufacturing, services, goods inventories, new orders, and therefore future growth.

A global composite PMI index from JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) was the weakest since July 2020 in May, with the new orders component only just above the 50 level dividing activity expansion from contraction.

PMI https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/movanrwgjpa/Pasted%20image%201656002596986.png

U.S. PMIs too have fallen, with manufacturing decelerating sharply in June. Sub-50 readings coincided with recessions in 2008 and 2020.

“Global PMIs sliding towards 50 is another sign that the post-COVID boom is behind us,” Mizuho’s Asher said.

US PMI https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/zdvxoeqznpx/Pasted%20image%201656004378870.png

3/ COUNTING COMMODITIES

Copper, a well-known growth bellwether, has slid 7% this week – its sharpest weekly drop since the March 2020 meltdown.

Dubbed “Dr Copper” because of its record as a boom-bust indicator, the metal has also seen its price ratio to gold hit an 18-month low. In short, if you think the economy’s tanking, dump copper and buy gold.

Brent crude has also slid 10% in June and is set for its biggest monthly fall since November.

copper-gold https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/gdvzygnmdpw/Pasted%20image%201656054034298.png

4/CARING ABOUT JUNK

Corporate sector stress, especially at the lower end of the credit spectrum, is another warning signal.

Financing costs for sub-investment grade, or “junk” U.S. companies have almost doubled this year to 8.51%. In euro markets, yields have soared to 6.8% from 2.8%.

According to BofA, if recession becomes a consensus view, U.S. junk bonds’ risk premia would average 600-650 bps, and peak above 700 bps.

At current spreads around 500 bps, the index “is about 70% on our way to pricing in a certainty of a recessionary outcome”, BofA analysts wrote.

Spreads on bonds rated triple-C and lower – facing the highest default risk – have risen above 1,000 bps, a significant sign of stress.

U.S. junk bond spreads https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/xmpjowjjdvr/junk%20bonds%20june%2024.png

5/ SHIFTING CONSENSUS

Several big banks are flagging increased likelihood of recession.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) forecasts a 30% chance of the U.S. economy tipping into recession over the next year – versus 15% earlier – while Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) places U.S. recession odds for the next 12 months at around 35%.

Citi forecasts a near-50% probability of global recession.

Citi’s Economic Surprise Index, measuring the degree to which the data is beating or missing forecasts, has fallen sharply for both Europe and the United States.

US, euro area surprise index is pointing sharply lower https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/lbvgnxwwwpq/SURPRISEINDEX.PNG

Economy

Asia stocks edge down after Wall Street falls; oil rises

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks past an electronic board displaying graphs (top) of Nikkei index outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Julie Zhu

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian shares edge down in early trade on Tuesday with investors taking their cue from a volatile Wall Street session overnight, while oil prices climbed following last week’s rout.

Oil continued to rise with investors still weighing worries over an economic slowdown against concern over lost Russian supply amid sanctions related to the conflict in Ukraine.

“A seam of tight supply news bolstered the (oil) market,” analysts at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:CMWAY) said in a research note. “Political unrest might curtail supply from a couple of second-tier producers, Ecuador and Libya. And then there’s the G7’s proposed price cap on Russian oil.”

Early in the Asian trading day, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.7%. The index is down 3.8% so far this month. U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were up 0.27%.

Australian shares were up 0.25%, while Japan’s Nikkei stock index rose 0.5%.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was 0.4% lower in early trade. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index opened down 0.36%.

On Monday, U.S. stocks ended a volatile trading session slightly lower with few catalysts to sway investor sentiment as they approach the half-way point of a year in which the equity markets have been slammed by heightened inflation worries and tightening Fed policy.

The major U.S. stock indexes lost ground after oscillating earlier in the session, with weakness in interest rate sensitive megacaps such as Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc providing the heaviest drag.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%, the S&P 500 lost 0.30% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.72%.

Oil prices rose 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.

U.S. crude ticked up 0.99% to $110.65 a barrel. Brent crude rose to $116.22 per barrel.

Treasury yields climbed on Monday following capital and durable goods orders data and as pending home sales surprised to the upside from the previous month.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last reached 3.1847% on Tuesday, compared with its U.S. close of 3.194% on Monday. The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 3.0974% compared with a U.S. close of 3.123%.

Also, the U.S. dollar edged lower versus major rivals as investors weighed expectations on inflation and interest rate hikes. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies of other major trading partners, was down at 103.91.

Gold was slightly higher. Spot gold was traded at $1,824.28 per ounce. [GOL/]

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Economy

Japan says hard to confirm impact from Russia’s debt default

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Japan’s new Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki wearing a protective mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, speaks at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, October 5, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said on Tuesday that it was “a little difficult” at present to confirm the definite impact on Japan from Russia’s debt default.

Suzuki, who commented on the issue after being asked about it by reporters at a news conference following a regular cabinet meeting, added that any moves in Russian government bonds were likely to have a limited impact on Japanese investors.

“The ratio of investments in Russia as part of Japan’s overall foreign bond investments is limited,” Suzuki said.

“Moves in Russian government bonds are likely to result in limited direct losses for Japanese investors, including financial institutions,” he said.

The White House and Moody’s (NYSE:MCO) credit agency on Monday said Russia had defaulted on its international bonds for the first time in more than a century.

The Kremlin, which has the money to make payments thanks to oil and gas revenues, has rejected the claims that it has defaulted on its external debt.

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Economy

Euro gains traction ahead of inflation data, dollar steadies

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© 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

Previous Change

Session

Euro/Dollar

$1.0579 $1.0583 +0.00% -6.91% +1.0586 +1.0571

Dollar/Yen

135.3050 135.4600 -0.12% +17.63% +135.5850 +135.3000

Euro/Yen

143.15 143.35 -0.14% +9.84% +143.4500 +143.1300

Dollar/Swiss

0.9558 0.9562 -0.07% +4.75% +0.9567 +0.9555

Sterling/Dollar

1.2274 1.2265 +0.07% -9.24% +1.2283 +1.2263

Dollar/Canadian

1.2866 1.2872 -0.05% +1.76% +1.2878 +1.2858

Aussie/Dollar

0.6929 0.6925 +0.09% -4.65% +0.6938 +0.6918

NZ

Dollar/Dollar 0.6300 0.6302 -0.02% -7.96% +0.6307 +0.6293

All spots

Tokyo spots

Europe spots

Volatilities

Tokyo Forex market info from BOJ

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