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Take Five: Who's afraid of U.S. inflation?

EconomyApr 09, 2021 09:15AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Employees wearing face masks work at a factory of the component maker SMC during a government organised tour of its facility following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Beijing, China 2/2

LONDON (Reuters) - 1/ U.S. INFLATION

U.S. consumer prices for March are due out Tuesday and markets are ready to scour the data for signs that massive stimulus spending is spurring inflation. Rising inflation expectations helped ignite a first-quarter selloff in Treasuries that pushed yields to pre-pandemic highs.

A strong reading could spark a fresh jump in yields and be bad news for stocks after the S&P climbed to fresh record highs, especially high-flying growth names.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said a spending surge as the U.S. economy reopens along with bottlenecks in supply will likely push prices higher this year, but not result in the kind of price rises that would constitute inflation. Analysts see consumer prices rising by a median 2.4% for March year-on-year, up from 1.7% in February.

Graphic: U.S. CPI -


Chinese data on GDP, credit growth, trade, industrial output and retail sales are likely to confirm the narrative of a solidifying economic recovery from pandemic lockdowns.

Economists expect first quarter GDP growth - due out Friday - to rise as much as 20% year-on-year, setting China up for a nearly double-digit 2021 expansion thanks to a resurgence in global manufacturing and a sharp recovery in domestic spending.

But maybe that's too much good news. Investors are fretting policymakers will pedal back on the easy pandemic monetary conditions, and blue chips logged their worst month in a year in March. Premier Li Keqiang has said Beijing will focus instead on consolidating the recovery.

Graphic: China foreign inflows slowed in March -


U.S. corporates - due to kick off the reporting season with the major banks - look on track for the biggest quarterly results gain since Q3 2018, when tax cuts under then President Donald Trump drove a surge in profit growth.

Overall Q1 S&P 500 earnings are expected to have jumped 24.2% from a year earlier, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. The results follow a big rally in sectors including energy and financials - stocks most likely to benefit from the rebound.

A future risk to earnings is the threat of corporate tax rises from 21% currently, as proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden. A 28% tax rate would take 7.4% off S&P 500 companies' earnings per share, UBS estimates.

Graphic: U.S. earnings growth -


The euro area, still deep in lockdowns to combat COVID-19, has had a dose of good news. More than 10 million people in France have now received a first shot of a vaccine, with a government target for the number reached a week ahead of schedule.

Germany's COVID vaccination drive too has picked up speed and Italy, which aims to vaccinate at least 80% of its population by the end of September, could soon sign a contract with Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) for more vaccine doses.

The vaccine race is key to the reopening of economies and news on this front will remain in focus. The forward-looking PMI indicator also gives reason for hope that economies are coping better than expected with new lockdowns. Euro zone business activity bounced back to growth in March - Germany's ZEW sentiment survey out on Tuesday, may support that picture.

Graphic: G7 COVID-19 vaccinations -


Turkey's central bank will hold its first meeting under new governor Sahap Kavcioglu. Since last month's surprise sacking of his predecessor, the lira has plummeted versus the dollar while inflation expectations are rising swiftly.

Policymakers are seen holding interest rates unchanged at 19%, but the expected timeline for a cut has been shortened.

    In South America, Sunday elections could confirm a regional leftist turn, giving investors more food for thought.

    Ecuador's presidential runoff follows months of debate over whether socialism or market-friendly policies are needed to restart the economy, with a left-wing economist looking in the lead in most polls.

    In Peru, polls indicate no clear winner, with six candidates vying for a shot at the June runoff, making the election one of the most unpredictable in recent memory.

Graphic: The lira's long decline -

Take Five: Who's afraid of U.S. inflation?

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Comments (4)
President Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping Apr 10, 2021 4:00AM ET
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Everyone is so young. 2 percent is a complete joke lol
Jouni Matero
Jouni Apr 09, 2021 10:04AM ET
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Wall Street inflation obviously ain't same as for ppl on the hoods
German Villanueva
German Villanueva Apr 09, 2021 9:26AM ET
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printing money has a price
Mike Chen
Mike Chen Apr 09, 2021 9:24AM ET
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The inflation that we see in our daily life is different from the CPI given by the govt. All I know is my purchasing power is getting weaker and things are getting more expensive or/and quantity lesser. Thanks to the unlimited QE.
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