Central bankers sing more hawkish tune
US Q1 GDP revised up
Eurozone economic sentiment soars
Brazil’s president faces corruption charges
Venezuelan crisis intensifies
Global equities fell modestly this week amid speculation concerning Europe scaling back monetary stimulus. Yields rose on the talk, with the 10-year Treasury note ending the week at 2.29%, up from 2.15% a week ago. Oil prices recovered some of their recent losses, rising to $45.40 from $42.65 last Friday. Volatility, as measured by the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, ticked up to 10.9 from 10.6.
GLOBAL MACRO NEWS
Easy money epoch at an end?
Markets turned turbulent this week after a series of hawkish comments from developed-market central bankers suggested the era of ultra-loose monetary policy may be nearing its end. European Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s speech on Tuesday to a gathering of central bankers in Portugal was read as suggesting that the ECB is considering curbing its asset-buying program. The ECB pushed back on that interpretation, but the market refused to be spun. European bond yields rose sharply, as did the euro on foreign exchange markets. Bank of England governor Mark Carney, after saying only a week ago that now is not the time to raise interest rates, reversed course and said the Monetary Policy Committee will debate a rate move in the next few months. Not to be outdone, US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and Vice Chair Stanley Fischer both voiced concerns that equity and other asset valuations are on the rich side, which suggests that financial stability worries could keep the Fed on a tightening path, despite easing US inflation pressures.
Despite the somewhat more hawkish tone, inflation pressures remain extremely muted, except in the United Kingdom, where currency pass-through is boosting prices. To illustrate this point, the eurozone reported on Friday that consumer prices rose only 1.3% in June versus a year ago, down from 1.4% in May. That’s well below the ECB’s near-2% target.
US growth revised higher to start year
US economic growth in the hard-to-measure first quarter of the year was revised higher for a second time on Thursday. Gross domestic product expanded at a 1.4% annual rate, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. That’s up from the 1.2% reading in the last revision. Improved consumer spending was the main driver of the revision, the BEA said. The initial Q1 reading, released in April, was a particularly anemic 0.7%.
Eurozone confidence near a 10-year high
The eurozone economic sentiment indicator (ESI) jumped to a nearly 10-year high of 111.1 in June from 109.2 in May, with optimism on display in all sectors of the economy, according to a report by the European Commission. The ESI reached 111.8 in August 2007, just before the global financial crisis began to intensify.
Temer charged with corruption
Brazilian president Michel Temer was formally charged this week with receiving bribes totaling $152,000. The charges come less than a year after he took office, in the wake of the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. Temer is the first sitting president of the country to be charged with a crime. In addition to the bribery count, the president may also face obstruction of justice charges, according to press reports.
Venezuelan crisis takes bizarre turn
A stolen police helicopter strafed and dropped grenades on Venezuela’s Supreme Court and Interior Ministry headquarters this week as protests against President Nicolas Maduro intensified. Some categorize the attack as an attempted coup against Maduro’s government, while others say the incident was staged by his supporters. The political tumult comes against the backdrop of a deepening economic crisis fueled by runaway inflation, food shortages and falling government revenues stemming from weak oil prices.
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