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The Trader: European stocks edge higher, BoE meeting ahead

London shares are edging ahead
The Trader: European stocks edge higher, BoE meeting ahead

 

  • Markets are in a holding pattern
  • Eyes on Bank of England announcement
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Stocks seem to be largely marking time until there is more clarity on economic data like inflation with the major European bourses a little higher this morning but well within ranges. Bonds are steady with US 10s around 1.5 per cent and stocks are likely to remain similarly directionless until the former start to motor. Wednesday saw US indices essentially flat but they remain +1 per cent higher on the week after a sharp turnaround from the Fed-induced selling last week. The Nasdaq rose marginally to notch another record high with subdued bond yields allowing investors to get back into big tech growth. More Fed speakers today to watch for in the shape of Bostic, Harker, Williams, Bullard and Barkin but the sentiment seems to be that if the Fed is going to more mindful of inflation than was judged for most of the last year then it ought to keep control of yields and allow for gently rising stock markets. I’d still be mindful of a tantrum later this year when yields ought to pick up some steam. 

Sterling trades close to $1.40 ahead of the Bank of England monetary policy statement today. As detailed in our preview, no change is expected but there are signs that inflation might run hotter than the MPC currently forecasts so we will be watching for any commentary around this. Yesterday’s UK PMI report pointed to strong inflationary pressures that will take CPI above the bank’s 2 per cent target – the question is how far above and for how long – and how does the Bank respond. Bailey has made clear the MPC won’t tolerate above-target inflation for long. Could he spring a hawkish surprise today and say something like ‘inflation pressures are building and the bank has the tools to respond’?  I don’t think this is the time yet to do this, but that’s why it would be a surprise.

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