Stock markets rally, as euro briefly surges

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On Wall Street the S&P 500 has sunk to its weakest level since June and just above its 2022 lows. (AFP)
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  • The euro surged a day after German central bank chief signaled the European Central Bank would probably continue raising its key rate.
  • The European single currency rocketed more than 1.4 percent against the dollar and 1.6 percent versus the yen before trimming gains around midday.

LONDON, UK – Stock markets rallied Monday, building on pre-weekend momentum as investors priced in the expectation of further interest rate hikes aimed at taming decades-high inflation.

The euro surged against main rivals, a day after German central bank chief Joachim Nagel signalled that the European Central Bank (ECB) would probably continue raising its key rate.

The European single currency rocketed more than 1.4 percent against the dollar and 1.6 percent versus the yen before trimming gains around midday.

The ECB raised the key rate by a historic 75 basis points last week, and markets expect a similar-sized hike at an October meeting.

Frankfurt led the way, closing more than two percent higher, followed by Paris and London not far behind after data showed the British economy rebounded slightly in July.

On Wall Street, stocks also advanced extending last week’s rally.

Tokyo closed with a gain of more than one percent thanks to a weaker yen. Markets in Hong Kong, mainland China and South Korea were closed for a public holiday.

Investors worldwide are awaiting key US inflation data for August, due Tuesday, with the consumer price index (CPI) expected to ease slightly to eight percent – still well above the Fed’s two-percent target.

Traders expect the Fed to impose another large rate hike next week, after two 75-basis-point increases already.

Clifford Bennett, chief economist at ACY Securities, said he expected stocks to “continue to drift higher” ahead of Tuesday’s CPI data.

The inflation print “may well see further improvement as petrol prices have continued to pull back”, he said.

Oil prices gained Monday but remain pressured by the possibility of global demand weakening as growth slows and China’s harsh zero-Covid policy continues to sap economic activity.

‘Soft landing’ hopes

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Sunday said she was hopeful the US economy could avoid a recession, but that the Fed would need to skillfully manage interest rates and also rely on “some good luck to achieve what we sometimes call a soft landing.

“My hope is we will achieve a soft landing, but Americans know it’s essential to bring inflation down and, over the longer run, we can’t have a strong labor market without inflation under control,” she told CNN.

Yellen said that while the US economy’s growth rate was slowing, the labor market remained “exceptionally strong”, with almost two openings for every jobseeker.

The release on Tuesday of the consumer price index will “provide some telling inflation data that will influence the market’s perspective on the Fed’s monetary policy approach”, analyst Patrick O’Hare of Briefing.com said.

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