Patchy signals on rates leave markets uncertain

Bonds fell and stocks struggled for direction as traders parsed the latest commentary from central bankers for clues on the path for interest rates.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said at the weekend the ECB could hike again, even if it pauses at its next meeting. In the U.S., Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari described the inflation outlook as “quite positive,” despite the likelihood of job losses and slower growth. Yields on German bonds and U.S. Treasuries climbed. 

The yen dropped against the dollar after the Bank of Japan announced unscheduled bond-purchase operations to buy debt. The BOJ was seeking to contain a sell-off after it said Friday it will allow yields to rise above a 0.5% cap.  

This week will build into another busy one for earnings. Heineken NV slumped as much as 6.4% on Monday after the Dutch brewer reduced its earnings forecast. Apple Inc. and Inc. are among companies reporting in the coming days. 

Equities in Asia rose, with Chinese stock gauges higher on expectations of more government stimulus. Europe’s benchmark stock index was little changed. U.S. equity futures were steady following a rally Friday that pushed the Nasdaq 100 nearly 2% higher amid optimism that a soft landing for the world’s biggest economy is within reach. 

On the policy front, July inflation numbers for the European Union due Monday will give the latest indication of how effective the ECB’s policy tightening campaign has been to curb price gains. Attention is already turning to the Bank of England’s interest rate decision on Thursday, where traders are positioning for a 25 basis-point hike. 

In China, July manufacturing PMI data remained in contraction but beat estimates. More government efforts to shore up the economy emerged on Friday, including a plan to boost consumer industries and steps to grow an exchange dedicated to helping small firms get access to funds.

“The government’s stance has clearly turned more supportive,” said Vey-Sern Ling, managing director at Union Bancaire Privee. There is more confidence that China will back up stimulus talk with concrete measures, he added.

Japan’s industrial production rebounded in June on Monday amid a resilient economic recovery, while another report showed that the nation’s retail sales fell 0.4%, compared with a 0.7% decline forecast by analysts.

On Friday, BOJ Governor Kazuo Ueda said the central bank would allow 10-year bond yields to rise above a ceiling it now calls a point of reference. That paves the way for a future normalization of policy that has implications for a wide range of global assets heavily exposed to Japanese money.

Yields on 10-year Japanese bonds jumped to their highest in nine years as investors speculated whether this tweak to BOJ’s yield curve control was a precursor to more drastic changes for its ultra-easy monetary policy.

Key events this week:

  • Australia RBA rate decision, Tuesday
  • Eurozone S&P Global Eurozone Manufacturing PMI, unemployment, Tuesday
  • UK S&P Global/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI, Tuesday
  • U.S. construction spending, ISM Manufacturing, job openings, light vehicle sales, Tuesday
  • China Caixin Services PMI, Thursday
  • Eurozone S&P Global Eurozone Services PMI, PPI, Thursday
  • UK BOE rate decision, Thursday
  • U.S. initial jobless claims, productivity, factory orders, ISM Services, Thursday
  • Eurozone retail sales, Friday
  • U.S. unemployment rate, non-farm payrolls, Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1% as of 8:24 a.m. London time
  • S&P 500 futures were little changed
  • Nasdaq 100 futures were little changed
  • Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were little changed
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.3%
  • The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 0.3%
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed
  • The euro was little changed at $1.1023
  • The Japanese yen fell 0.6% to 142.00 per dollar
  • The offshore yuan was little changed at 7.1459 per dollar
  • The British pound was little changed at $1.2861
  • Bitcoin rose 0.5% to $29,404.75
  • Ether was little changed at $1,866.95
  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced three basis points to 3.98%
  • Germany’s 10-year yield advanced two basis points to 2.52%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield advanced two basis points to 4.34%
  • Brent crude fell 0.3% to $84.76 a barrel
  • Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,955.99 an ounce

This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation.

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