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Shares fall as surprise Swiss rate hike adds to policy angst

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© Reuters. People wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, are reflected on an electronic board displaying Japan’s stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, October 5, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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By Danilo Masoni and Andrew Galbraith

MILAN/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – World stocks fell on Thursday and the dollar regained its footing on concerns over the impact of surging inflation and an aggressive policy tightening outlook from global central banks.

The Swiss National Bank raised its policy interest rate for the first time in 15 years with a surprise 50 basis point hike that soured the mood and sent the safe-haven franc up sharply.

The MSCI’s benchmark for global stocks gave up earlier gains and by 0803 GMT was down 0.3%. The initial positive reaction to the widely expected 75 basis point rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve also fizzled out.

Later on Thursday the focus will turn to the Bank of England which is also expected to raise rates to tackle inflation, a day after the European Central Bank promised fresh support to temper a bond market rout.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was down more than 1%, while S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 1.8%.

“There’s a lot of nervousness. After the initial relief to the Fed… markets seem to have woken up that it is still a 75 basis point rate hike,” Giuseppe Sersale, strategist and portfolio manager at Anthilia in Milan.

“If even the Swiss central bank surprisingly raises by half a point clearly investors imagine that the tightening of central banks is still very violent. There is very little to be cheerful about,” he added.

The Fed approved on Wednesday its biggest interest rate hike since 1994. Fed officials also see further steady rises this year, targeting a federal funds rate of 3.4% by year-end.

Fed projections showed U.S. economic growth slowing to a below-trend rate of 1.7%, and policymakers expect to cut interest rates in 2024.

Data on Friday showed a sharper-than-expected rise in U.S. inflation in May, alongside a University of Michigan survey showing consumers’ five-year inflation expectations jumping sharply to their highest since June 2008.

In a news conference following the Fed’s latest two-day policy meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that the survey was “quite eye-catching”.

“(Inflation expectations) are starting to look like they’re too high. That I think is one reason why Powell wanted to do a 75 … And I think they will also go again in July,” said Joseph Capurso, head of international economics at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (OTC:CMWAY).

“They’ve got to get inflation down. They’re so far behind the curve it’s not funny.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.1%, erasing earlier gains.

After retreating from a 20-year peak following the Fed meeting, the dollar regained its footing in the Asian session.

The global dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six peers, was last up 0.5% at 105.29.

The Swiss franc soared after the Swiss National Bank took markets by surprise with the large rate hike. It was last up almost 1.6% against the euro at 1.0225 and 1% higher against the dollar 0.9848.

U.S. Treasury yields rose with the 10-year yield at 3.362% from a close of 3.291% on Wednesday.

Oil prices recovered from a steep drop as investors focused on tight supplies. Brent crude was last up 0.3% to $118.8 per barrel and U.S. crude added 0.2% to $115.6.

Gold was slightly lower as the dollar firmed. Spot gold last traded at $1,829.4 per ounce, down 0.2% on the day. [GOL/]

Economy

Futures rise as easing China COVID curbs lift travel, leisure stocks

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© Reuters. A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., June 22, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – Travel and leisure shares propped up U.S. stock index futures after China relaxed some COVID-19 quarantine requirements for international travelers, raising hopes of a revival in global growth.

Airlines, cruises, casinos and hotels were among the gainers in premarket trading after China’s slashing of the quarantine time for inbound travelers by half boosted hopes of a big jump in international travel and spending.

Shares of Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) Inc rose 2.5% to top the list of gainers on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the company’s Shanghai Disney Resort said it would reopen the Disneyland theme park on June 30 after being shut for more than three months.

Spirit Airlines (NYSE:SAVE) and American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) Group Inc were the biggest gainers in the sector, rising 4% and 2% respectively.

Melco Resorts jumped 10% and led the rise in the casino sector, closely followed by Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) International.

Wall Street’s main indexes started the week on soft footing after worries of surging inflation and an aggressive Federal Reserve dominated sentiment amid few market moving catalysts till the start of earnings season in two weeks.

Investors are now looking at data to determine whether the economy can withstand large interest rate hikes by the U.S. central bank to stamp out inflation.

A survey from the Conference Board is expected to show its consumer confidence index slipped to a reading of 100.4 in June, from 106.4 in May, at 10 a.m. ET.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq are set to post losses in June and are on course to log two straight quarterly declines for the first time since 2015.

At 6:49 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 175 points, or 0.56%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 20 points, or 0.51%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 52.25 points, or 0.43%.

Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) shed 2.8% as it forecast first-quarter revenue below estimates on expectations of more discounts and pandemic-related disruptions in China, its most profitable market.

Occidental Petroleum Corp (NYSE:OXY) climbed 3.1% after top investor Warren Buffett raised stake in the shale producer.

China ADRs also rose on Beijing easing its COVID curbs, with e-commerce firms Alibaba (NYSE:BABA).com, JD (NASDAQ:JD).com and Pinduoduo (NASDAQ:PDD) up between 1.2% and 1.4%

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Economy

Euro below $1.06 as Lagarde keeps July policy options open

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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 Saikat Chatterjee

LONDON (Reuters) – The Aussie and the Canadian dollar climbed on Tuesday on firmer oil prices while the euro held below $1.06 as European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde offered no fresh insight on the central bank’s policy outlook.

The ECB is widely expected to follow its global peers by raising interest rates in July to check soaring inflation though economists are divided on the magnitude of the rate hike to protect a struggling economic recovery due to high oil prices.

Oil prices are up 10% in barely a week on supply constraint concerns with Brent crude holding above $117, pushing the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar up 0.3% and 0.4% respectively. [O/R]

“Oil is helping the Norwegian crown and the Canadian dollar to outperform and the euro is again running into resistance at the 1.06 level,” said Kenneth Broux, an FX strategist at Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY) in London.

The euro held below $1.06 after the ECB’s Lagarde said the central bank would move gradually but with the option to act decisively on any deterioration in medium-term inflation, especially if there were signs of a de-anchoring of inflation expectations.

Money markets are pricing in about 238 basis points (bps) of cumulative rate hikes by mid-2023 compared to around 280 bps two weeks ago.

Broader currency market moves were contained in a big week for markets in economic data terms. German inflation figures are due on Wednesday, French data on Thursday and euro zone numbers on Friday.

At the other end of the dial, higher oil prices caused the partially convertible Indian rupee to open at a record low, and fall further to 78.67 per dollar.

The U.S. dollar index struck a two-decade high of 105.79 this month and was last steady at 103.93.

Elsewhere, the offshore Chinese yuan moved higher after China reduced COVID quarantine for international travellers.

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Economy

China’s economy recovering but foundation not solid, premier says

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is seen on a screen as he attends a news conference via video link after the closing session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Ryan Woo

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s economy has recovered to some extent, but its foundation is not solid, state media on Tuesday quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying.

China will strive to drive the economy back onto a normal track and bring down the jobless rate as soon as possible, Li was quoted as saying.

“Currently, the implementation of the policy package to stabilise the economy is accelerating and taking effect. The economy has recovered on the whole, but the foundation is not yet solid,” Li was quoted as saying.

“The task of stabilising employment remains arduous.”

China’s economy showed signs of recovery in May after slumping the previous month as industrial production revived, but consumption remained weak and underlined the challenge for policymakers amid the persistent drag from strict COVID-19 curbs.

China’s nationwide survey-based jobless rate fell to 5.9% in May from 6.1% in April, still above the government’s 2022 target of below 5.5%.

In particular, the surveyed jobless rate in 31 major cities picked up to 6.9%, the highest on record. Some economists expect employment to worsen before it gets better, with a record number of graduates entering the workforce in summer.

Li vowed to achieve reasonable economic growth in the second quarter, although some private-sector economists expect the economy to shrink in the April-June quarter from a year earlier, compared with the first quarter’s 4.8% growth.

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