March 21, 2022
“Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would help where he could with the cost-of-living squeeze but warned that he is powerless to stop global inflation. Russian sanctions have intensified a surge in UK inflation – with levels headed for 8% soon and the economy set to slow after its post-pandemic resurgence.”
Tim Hallinan – Trading Director
Ukraine rejected a Russian demand that its forces lay down their arms and leave Mariupol today. The besieged southern city has been under heavy bombardment and Ukraine has accused Russian forces of blocking humanitarian aid. Moscow had delivered the ultimatum with a morning deadline, in return for which food and medicine could be sent into the city, and potentially safe passage arranged for civilians. It’s unclear what action might follow the refusal to surrender. US President Joe Biden will speak with European leaders ahead of his trip to the continent this week. The President will also travel to Poland during his Europe trip to discuss international efforts to support Ukraine and impose “severe and unprecedented costs” on Russia for its invasion, press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. Senior US officials will also meet with executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and other firms about the impact of the invasion and sanctions.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak sparked anger with unions on Sunday after he indicated that ministers would allow the Dubai-based owner of P&O Ferries to continue investing in free ports in the UK, even after hundreds of employees have been laid off. Sunak described P&O Ferries’ decision to fire 800 British workers without notice in a BBC speech on Sunday morning as “appalling” and “terrible”, adding that the government was investigating whether the company’s actions were consistent with the law. However, when asked whether the government would prevent Dubai-based and state-controlled logistics and shipping giant DP World from owning and operating free ports in the UK, Sunak suggested that this be treated separately from the P&O controversy. “We are urgently working to establish the facts of what happened in this case, and whether P&O or DP World are in conflict with any of the requirements placed on them as partners in the Thames and Solent Freeports,” said the government.
Sterling is weaker than most major currencies in the early morning trade. British finance minister Rishi Sunak, preparing for a budget update this week, said on Sunday he would help where he could with a cost-of-living squeeze but warned that the Ukraine crisis and sanctions on Russia would add to the economy’s problems. Britain and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russia and energy prices have jumped following the invasion of Ukraine, intensifying a surge in inflation. Asked by BBC television if he planned to step in and help households with their energy bills, Sunak said: “Of course I am, and people can judge me by my actions over the past two years where we’ve been able to make a difference.” But he added that he has no control over global inflationary forces. He is due to deliver a Spring Statement on the public finances and his tax-and-spending plans on Wednesday, with inflation heading for 8% soon and the economy set to slow after its post-pandemic rebound.
The euro is stronger against sterling and weaker against the dollar this morning. European Union leaders may hold off on endorsing intervention in the bloc’s wholesale energy market as member states are divided on the most effective emergency options to curb soaring power and gas prices, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Instead, at a summit this week in Brussels, the EU heads of government may agree on immediate actions to replenish depleted natural gas storage and on urgent measures to help retail consumers shoulder some of the burden of rising energy bills, according to diplomats with knowledge of the matter. Germany gets more than half of its natural gas, half of its coal and roughly a third of its oil from Russia. But after years of uncertainty that stymied Qatari liquefied natural gas sales, Qatar said it agreed to work on supplying Germany with liquefied natural gas, as Europe’s biggest economy seeks to reduce its dependence on Russian energy.
The dollar is well bid against most major currencies overnight. The biggest US investment banks have taken a $4.6bn revenue hit from the freeze in equity raisings because of recent market volatility, a sharp slowdown for Wall Street which raked in record profits from stock sales last year. The feast-to-famine swing underscores the unpredictable nature of investment banking, a crucial reason why large investors value these stocks at a discount to more predictable industries, often to the frustration of bank executives. New York City’s apartment sales are sizzling, popular restaurants are booking up and Covid mandates are fading away. But underneath the buzz, an economic pain persists in a city where twice as many people are unemployed compared to the seasonally adjusted US average. Prices are climbing at their highest pace in decades, and bank earnings and real estate prices have soared, but offices in Midtown Manhattan and the Financial District remain under-occupied as employees opt to work from home.
US equity futures and stocks slipped Monday as crude oil extended a climb and investors monitored diplomatic efforts to bring an end to Russia’s almost month-old war in Ukraine. MSCI Inc.’s Asia-Pacific share index snapped a three-day climb, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 contracts retreated and those for Europe wavered. West Texas Intermediate oil rose to about $108 a barrel as investors assessed the war as well as Middle East tension. Australia’s ban on exports of alumina to Russia sparked an advance in aluminium. A gauge of the dollar climbed. Russia is pressing on with its invasion of Ukraine, which has stoked inflation by pushing up the price of key commodities such as oil and wheat. The bond market continues to flash caution about risks from the war and rising US interest rates. The Treasury yield curve is flattening, and portions are inverted, which for some is an indicator of a looming economic slowdown.
Main Economic Data/Central Banks/Government (All Times CET)
8:00 a.m.: Germany Feb. PPI
8:30 a.m.: ECB’s Lagarde speaks
9:00 a.m.: Turkey Feb. foreign tourist arrivals
9:00 a.m.: Switzerland Feb. money supply
10:00 a.m.: Poland Feb. retail sales
10:00 a.m.: ECB’s Makhlouf speaks
12:00 p.m.: Sweden PES unemployment
1:00 p.m.: Turkey to sell bonds
2:50 p.m.: France to sell bonds
4:30 p.m.: ECB’s Nagel Speaks
FT’s Commodities Global Summit kicks off in Lausanne
Earnings include JBS, Peugeot Invest, Pinduoduo, Nike