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Marketmind: US inflation looms large with Asia on holiday

Published Feb 12, 2024 12:38AM ET
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By Wayne Cole

(Reuters) - A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Wayne Cole.

It's been unsurprisingly quiet in Asia on Monday with China, Japan, Singapore and several other centres on holiday.

It's also a public holiday for Lunar New Year in New York State for the first time, although that doesn't seem to encompass Wall Street. U.S. stock futures are barely changed, European equity and Treasury futures a fraction firmer and the dollar a shade softer.

Markets would likely have been cautious anyway given the U.S. consumer price report for January is out on Tuesday and will refine wagers on whether the Federal Reserve cuts in March or May.

Headline CPI is forecast to rise 0.2% month-on-month, with core up 0.3%. The annual CPI would return to 3.0%, where it was in the middle of last year, while core is seen slowing to 3.8%, the lowest since mid-2021. Prices for used cars are set to be a big drag, while everyone is waiting for rent growth to finally start slowing.

The range of estimates for the core is +0.1% to +0.3%, which suggests the risks lean to the downside. Note the seasonal adjustment revisions out last Friday will make little difference, given the six-month annualised pace changed just marginally to 3.25% from 3.21%.

Futures have given up on a March rate cut, which has come in to just a 17% chance, while a May easing stands around 80%. The market implies 121 basis points of cuts for the year, down from 145 basis points a couple of weeks ago.

There are at least eight Fed speakers on the calendar this week, including the always influential Governor Christopher Waller.

Also out this week is U.S. retail sales data, which is forecast to fall 0.1% overall but to rise 0.3% excluding autos. The control group which maps to GDP is seen even firmer at +0.4%, continuing the run of solid consumption indicators.

Britain also has CPI data and a reading on Q4 GDP, which could show a small contraction and thus confirm a technical recession. That would be uncomfortable timing for the government, given there are two by-elections on Thursday and polls suggest the Conservatives could lose both.

The head of the Bank of England speaks later on Monday and analysts assume he will reiterate the bank's hawkish line on no early rate cuts.

One notable sector where inflation will not be slowing is chocolate, and just in time for Valentine's Day. The price of cocoa jumped 16% last week to hit record highs for nine sessions running.

Prices are up 40% since the start of the year, due to poor harvests in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana that have been exacerbated by the El Nino weather pattern. The worry is that global warming could make this a semi-permanent state of affairs.

Costs and margin compression will be a focus for results due this week from Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:KHC), Coca Cola and Burger King owner Restaurant Brands (NYSE:QSR).

Other groups reporting include Airbnb, Marriott, MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT), DoorDash (NASDAQ:DASH) and farm equipment supplier Deere (NYSE:DE).

Key developments that could influence markets on Monday:

- BoE Gov Bailey speaks, ECB Chief Economist Lane and Bank of Spain Governor de Cos speak, ECB board member Cipollone is on a panel

- Fed Speakers include Presidents Bowman, Barkin and Kashkari

(By Wayne Cole; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

Marketmind: US inflation looms large with Asia on holiday
 

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