• Week Ahead – Powell to the rescue

    Rising yields spook investors

    Jerome Powell’s appearances in Congress next week may come at the perfect time. Rising yields have made investors nervous and the Fed Chair may be the person to put their minds at ease. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson will lay out plans for the easing of the lockdown measures in the UK.

    Biden stimulus to make progress in the House

    UK to ease lockdown after vaccine success

    India GDP in focus on Friday



    Wall Street’s main event of the week will be Fed Chair Powell’s testimony on Capitol Hill.  Powell will have two days to answer questions on the Fed’s dovish strategy and at what point rising Treasury yields pose a risk to the recovery.  Another disappointing weekly jobless claims figure points to a weak February payrolls report and that should keep the Fed on autopilot in the short-term. 

    House Democrats are planning to move President Biden’s COVID relief bill forward with a vote.  Expectations are still high for conservative Democrats to support the bill’s passing in the Senate by mid-March.  The price tag of the bill might come down and it seems unlikely the minimum wage hike to $15 will get enough support.  


    A sluggish start to the vaccine rollout in Europe may explain some of the softer services PMI readings last week and will likely contribute to a slower reopening in the months ahead. Still, restrictions are working as vaccines are rolled out and Covid numbers are improving and that should continue to see rising optimism in the coming months. 

    The data next week is tier two and three, including final CPI for the euro area, German GDP, Gfk and Ifo surveys, and French GDP.


    The impressive vaccine rollout has traders optimistic about the outlook for the recovery this year. The economy has been among the worst hit by the pandemic but the UK has been among the most successful in rolling out the vaccine which should enable it to reopen soon. Boris Johnson is due to announce reopening plans on Monday starting with schools. 

    PMIs were vastly improved but retail sales data highlighted how important it is to get the consumer economy booming again. The UK jobs report is the only notable release on Tuesday next week.


    USDTRY is back below 7 after peaking above 8.5 in November; a sign of how far Turkey has come since replacing its central bank governor and finance minister. Traders are increasingly confident in the central bank – under the leadership of Naci Ağbal – to stay the course and not buckle under political pressure.


    PBOC continues to maintain USD/CNY fixing around 6.4500 while withdrawing liquidity domestically. Asia FX will remain stable while this continues.

    China 1 and 5-year Loan Prime Rate decision Monday. It would be a huge surprise if they hiked and would be a strong negative for equities, positive CNY. Quiet data week otherwise. Geopolitical front is relatively quiet.


    India GDP in focus Friday, expected to moderate to -4.5-5.0% YoY. Better number equities positive. 

    The Indian Rupee continues to appreciate breaking long-term support at 72.75. The Reserve Bank of India may become more aggressive in currency intervention now to slow appreciation. 

    Australia & New Zealand

    The RBA minutes were very dovish but the currency and equities are at the mercy of movements on Wall Street. Commodity prices remain very firm, particularly base metals, limiting the downside on both. Slow week data-wise.

    Reserve Bank of New Zealand rate decision on Wednesday. The RBNZ will remain unchanged at 0.25% but markets will be focusing on the statement. The RBNZ may signal that NZ has seen the best of its post-Covid recovery until borders open, or signal that monetary policy might tighten sooner than expected. The later scenario will see NZD/USD spike sharply and be negative for equities.


    Tokyo CPI, Japan Industrial Production and Retail Sales all released on Friday. In line with PMI readings they are expected to show that export sector recovery continues, but inflation and domestic recovery remain weak. 

    The BoJ has signalled that it will continue buying ETF’s as needed and has no intention of selling any. That pushed the Nikkei through 30,000 and should continue next week depending on developments on Wall Street.

    The rise in US 30-year yields sparked an aggressive rally by USD/JPY above 106.00 this week. That has since partially been corrected but highlights the sensitivity of USD/JPY to US/Japan rate differentials. Another move higher by US 10 and 30-year bonds next week could see the USD/JPY spike higher to 107.00. USD/JPY is maintaining the breakout of its 9-month falling wedge suggesting higher levels ahead anyway.

    Key Economic Events
    Saturday, February 20th
    – International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Grossi visits Tehran with hopes of salvaging 2015 nuclear deal.  

    – Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha faces no-confidence vote

    Sunday, February 21st
    – European Commission President von der Leyen speaks about a “Green New Deal”

    Monday, February 22nd
    – EU foreign ministers meet to consider new sanctions on Russia over the imprisonment of Navalny.

    – ECB President Christine Lagarde speaks at the European Semester Conference.

    – Riksbank Deputy Governor Martin Floden presents his view of monetary policy and the economic situation.

    – US Treasury Secretary Yellen speaks at the New York Times DealBook conference

    – BOE policy maker Vlieghe speaks on the economic outlook.

    Economic Data

    US leading index

    Japan PPI services

    Thailand trade

    Germany Feb Ifo business expectations: 91.8 estimate v 91.1 prior

    Hong Kong CPI

    Tuesday, February 23rd
    – Iran may curb cooperation with nuclear watchdog inspectors that were agreed upon with the 2015 nuclear deal. 

    – Fed Chair Powell delivers the central bank’s semi-annual monetary policy report to the Senate Banking Committee.

    – EU European Affairs ministers meet in Brussels to discuss relations with the U.K.

    – EU antitrust chief Vestager will speak on digital regulations at the European Parliament.

    – Bank of Canada Governor Macklem speaks

    – Riksbank Deputy Governor Breman speaks about monetary policy and bank’s mandate

    – International Petroleum Week

    Economic Data

    US FHFA house price index, Conference Board consumer confidence, S&P CoreLogic Case-Schiller home prices

    UK Unemployment

    Sweden Unemployment

    Poland Unemployment

    South Africa Unemployment

    New Zealand retail sales

    China new home prices

    Singapore CPI

    Hungary rate decision: Expected to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.60%

    Wednesday, February 24th
    – Fed Chair Powell testifies before the Congress House Committee on Financial Services on monetary policy and the economy

    – South Africa’s Mboweni presents budget

    – Hong Kong presents annual budget

    – EIA crude oil inventory report

    – BOE Chief Economist Haldane speaks

    Economic Data

    US new home sales

    Mexico retail sales

    Germany GDP

    Hong Kong GDP

    New Zealand rate decision: Expected to keep Official Cash Rate unchanged at 0.25%

    Russia CPI

    Thursday, February 25th
    – EU leaders begin two-day on travel restrictions and COVID vaccine strategy

    – A wrath of Fed speak, Atlanta Fed President Bostic speaks at a banking conference. St. Louis Fed President Bullard discusses monetary policy. New York Fed President Williams takes part in a panel.  Fed’s Quarles discusses Stress Tests

    – ECB Vice President de Guindos speaks at an online session of the IESE Alumni Learning Program organized by IESE Business School.

    Economic Data

    US initial jobless claims, durable goods, second reading of Q2 GDP, pending home sales

    Mexico unemployment, GDP, central bank meeting minutes

    Eurozone Consumer confidence

    New Zealand ANZ business confidence

    Australia private capital expenditure

    Thailand BoP, trade

    Japan leading index

    Hong Kong trade

    Russia gold and foreign reserves

    Friday, February 26th
    – Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 will meet virtually

    – The US House of Representatives are expected to have its first floor vote on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

    – ECB Executive Board member Schnabel speaks at European Fiscal Board conference.

    – BOE Deputy Governor Ramsden speaks for the Institute of Chartered Accountants

    Economic Data

    US personal income/spending, wholesale inventories, MNI Chicago PMI, University of Michigan sentiment

    Canada industrial product price

    New Zealand ANZ consumer confidence, trade

    Australia private sector credit

    Japan industrial production, housing starts, retail sales

    France GDP

    Switzerland GDP

    Sweden GDP

    Iceland GDP

    Poland GDP

    Denmark GDP, unemployment

    Singapore industrial production

    Turkey Trade balance

    Norway Unemployment

    Hungary Unemployment

    France CPI

    South Africa money supply, trade balance

    Sovereign Rating Updates

    – Denmark (Fitch, S&P)

    – Ireland (Fitch)

    – Ukraine (Fitch)

    – EFSF (Moody’s)

    – ESM (Moody’s)

    – France (Moody’s)

    – Portugal (DBRS)


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