March 31, 2022
“Western capitals are unanimously opposed to linking progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine with the lifting of sanctions against Moscow – however it has been stated by US and European officials that a full ceasefire, complete troop withdrawal, and return of captured Ukrainian territory would be required to trigger any sanctions discussions.”
Tim Hallinan – Trading Director
Western capitals are united in opposing linking progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine with the lifting of sanctions against Moscow, instead girding for long-term economic pressure against the Kremlin. Russian and Ukrainian negotiators emerged from talks in Turkey on Tuesday with the exchange of draft peace proposals and a statement from Moscow that it would scale back its military operations against Kyiv, raising hopes that negotiations were making progress. But US and European officials voiced scepticism over Russia’s sincerity and commitment towards the peace talks, underlining that only a full ceasefire, complete troop withdrawal and return of captured territory to Ukraine would be enough to trigger discussions over lifting sanctions on Russia’s economy. The detachment of potential sanctions relief for the Kremlin from possible outcomes of the peace talks comes as Ukraine said Russian forces continue to shell the outskirts of Kyiv and encircled cities in other parts of the country.
Britain is focused on helping protect Ukrainians from the war and is not aiming to remove Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement yesterday. Addressing President Biden’s comments that Putin “cannot remain in power”, Johnson told a committee of lawmakers that he understood “the frustrations that people feel about Putin,” but that Britain is “simply setting out to help to protect the people of Ukraine, and to protect them against absolutely barbaric and unreasonable violence.” However, Johnson also said that Britain was looking at “going up a gear” in its support for Ukraine, including possibly providing armoured Land Rovers to help the Ukrainians provide humanitarian relief to encircled cities such as Mariupol. He added that he wants to provide Ukraine with “more lethal” military aid as he warned that Vladimir Putin would try to “twist the knife”.
Sterling is weaker than most major currencies in the early morning trade. Australian businesses have committed to investing £28.5 billion in sectors such as infrastructure and clean energy in Britain, the British government said following a UK-Australia investment roundtable. The investments include a pledge by financial services firm Macquarie Group to support £12 billion of investment by 2030 in infrastructure projects including offshore wind, gigabit broadband and hydrogen hubs. Confidence levels among British employers have fallen sharply and an increasing number of firms are expected to increase their prices and staff pay because of the rise in inflation and the war in Ukraine, a Lloyds Bank survey has shown. Boris Johnson must resign as prime minister over “widespread criminality” in Downing Street during lockdown, Sir Keir Starmer has said. It comes after the Metropolitan Police said the first 20 fines for Covid rule-breaking at parties are to be issued. Labour leader Sir Keir accused Mr Johnson of misleading MPs by previously saying no rules had been broken.
The euro is well bid against most major currencies overnight. Two weeks since Russia began Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II, businesses across the continent are already in varying stages of despair at the consequences on livelihoods. Surging energy costs are the central complaint, although disrupted supply chains, sanctions and worries about a looming demand drop are also weighing on enterprises. However, in a turn of events, yesterday in a phone call, Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that European nations could continue paying euros for Russian gas instead of rubles, as previously sought by the Kremlin. Russia’s negotiators had suggested Tuesday that Moscow would reduce military activities in northern Ukraine and around Kyiv. However, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said yesterday that “there is no breakthrough or anything new … there are many statements from the Russian authorities. I will only believe actions.”
The dollar is stronger against sterling and weaker against the euro this morning. Oil prices have fallen sharply after reports that the US is set to take new steps to bring down high fuel costs. The Biden administration is reportedly considering the release of up to 180 million barrels of oil in the coming months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. If confirmed, this will be the largest-ever release since the reserve was created in 1974. The war in Ukraine has rocked global energy markets in recent weeks over concerns that supplies will be cut. During a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday, President Biden informed him that the US intends to give Ukraine an additional $500 million in direct budgetary aid, according to a White House readout of the call. Ukraine will be able to use direct budgetary aid to bolster its government services, put it towards military purposes, or provide humanitarian aid.
US stocks fell for the first time in five days as hopes faded for de-escalation in the war in Ukraine and investors assessed the risks to economic growth from accelerating inflation. Oil rebounded from a two-day slide. The S&P 500 extended declines in afternoon trading, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 slid 1.1%. Apple Inc. fell, ending its longest rally since 2003. Treasuries rose across maturities, after a brief inversion in a segment of the curve on Tuesday signalled the prospect of a recession. In Europe, short-dated notes led a selloff as traders bet higher-than-expected inflation will force policy makers to end their era of negative rates. Russia said talks with Ukraine yielded no breakthroughs and that it was regrouping forces in a push to complete the takeover of the eastern Donbas region. The White House said Russian President Vladimir Putin feels misled by his advisers on the war. Reports that New York City Covid-19 cases were rising again also weighed on sentiment.
Main Economic Data/Central Banks/Government (All Times CET)
8:00 a.m.: U.K. 4Q GDP; March Nationwide House Price Index
8:00 a.m.: Denmark 4Q GDP
8:45 a.m.: France March CPI; Feb. PPI, consumer spending
9:00 a.m. Czech Republic 4Q GDP
9:00 a.m.: Turkey Feb. trade balance
9:55 a.m.: Germany March unemployment rate
10:00 a.m.: Italy Feb. unemployment rate
10:00 a.m.: ECB’s Lane speaks
11:00 a.m.: Euro-Area Feb. unemployment rate
11:00 a.m.: Italy March CPI
12:00 p.m.: ECB’s De Guindos speaks
2:00 p.m.: South Africa Feb. trade balance
2:30 p.m.: Czech Republic Repurchase Rate
2:30 p.m.: U.S. initial jobless claims; Feb. personal income and spending, PCE deflator
3:00 p.m.: Fed’s Williams speaks
7:30 p.m.: Biden speaks on efforts to lower gasoline prices
OPEC+ monthly meeting
SNB’s Maechler, Moser speak at money market event
Earnings include Walgreens, H&M, Deutsche Wohnen, BlackBerry