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Post-Fed Rally Fades, SNB Hike, Russian Gas Squeeze – What’s Moving Markets

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By Geoffrey Smith — The global market rally after the Fed’s 75 basis point hike fades, as Switzerland and – probably – the Bank of England keep the global tightening cycle rolling. U.S. jobless claims and housing starts are due, along with the Philly Fed survey. Russia cuts gas supplies to its biggest European customers as the leaders of France, Germany, and Italy head to Kyiv for talks. And oil falls to a two-week low on recession fears. Here’s what you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, June 16. 

1. Markets post-Fed, U.S. data

The global market rally that followed the Federal Reserve’s biggest rate hike in 28 years started to fade, as the implications of the Fed’s action sunk in. The key takeaway appears to have been that the Fed is willing to risk recession in order to bring inflation down, but that it may have to continue hiking aggressively to do that as long as disruptions from the pandemic and the Ukraine war continue.

U.S. bond yields ticked up again overnight, and 10-Year Treasury yields were back at 3.45% by 6:10 AM ET after trading as low as 3.28% on Wednesday.

With bond market confidence fragile, the market is not in the best place to receive the day’s U.S. data dump at 8:30 AM ET, which includes weekly jobless claims, the Philadelphia Fed’s monthly business survey and – perhaps most importantly, given the recent signs of weakness in housing – building permits and housing starts for May.

2. Swiss National Bank steals Bank of England’s thunder

The Swiss National Bank raised its key rate by 50 basis points and said it would consider reversing some of its massive currency purchases of the last decade, in the latest hawkish surprise from central banks around the world. The SNB’s move contrasts with the European Central Bank’s refusal to speed up the pace of monetary tightening last week.

The decision came only a couple of hours before an expected 25 basis point increase from the Bank of England.

That would be a fifth straight hike from the BoE, and the Fed’s surprisingly strong move on Wednesday may make it harder for the bank to signal the pause in tightening that many had expected in reaction to a clear slowdown in the U.K. economy.  

3. Stocks set to give up gains

U.S. stocks are set to reverse all of Wednesday’s gains and more at the opening, as the prospect of higher funding costs and a U.S. recession force another rethink of valuations.

By 6:15 AM ET, Dow Jones futures were down 591 points, or 1.9%, while S&P 500 futures were down 2.4% and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 2.8%. The three main cash indices had risen by between 1% and 2.5% on Wednesday.

Stocks likely to be in focus later include Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT), which has had to pause production of baby formula at one of its plants in the Midwest after flooding, adding to its ongoing problems in getting enough product to market. Also in focus may be McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), which agreed to pay $1.3 billion to settle a tax claim in France, and the cosmetics sector, after Revlon (NYSE:REV) filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

4. Russia cuts gas supplies to Germany, Italy

European natural gas prices surged again as Russia cut supplies to its biggest customers, Germany and Italy, the latest exchange in the economic war between the West and Russia over the latter’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gazprom (MCX:GAZP) has cut supplies to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 60% this week, while it also said it will cut Italy’s supplies by 15%. By 6:30 AM ET, the benchmark Dutch TTF contract for July was at 142.25 euros a megawatt-hour, having started the week below 80 EUR/MWh.

Gazprom’s action comes two days after Germany formalized its seizure of the Russian gas monopoly’s trading arm in Germany and a subsequent state-backed loan to fund purchases of alternative supplies. Gazprom risks losing its leverage over its European buyers if they can fill the EU’s storage facilities by the start of the heating season in the fall.

Not by coincidence, the move also coincides with a visit to Kyiv by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. All three have tried to maintain contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the invasion, much to the anger of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

5. Oil hits two-week low due to strong dollar, recession fears

Crude oil prices by contrast fell as the market started to price in greater demand destruction in the U.S. later in the year. U.S. dollar strength, which has revived in response to the Fed’s aggressive action, is also making oil more expensive for emerging markets.

In addition, there was a rare bit of upbeat supply news, as Russia’s deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said Russia’s oil output will rise by around 600,000 barrels a day this month from May, with decent prospects for further increases in July.

By 6:30 AM ET, U.S. crude futures were 0.4% at $114.86 a barrel, having earlier hit a two-week low of $114.36. Brent was down 0.7% at $117.68 a barrel.

Post-Fed Rally Fades, SNB Hike, Russian Gas Squeeze – What’s Moving Markets

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