On Tuesday, stock markets around the world fell as supply chain issues and rising costs impacted corporate earnings and hampered manufacturing output, but Treasury yields fell as equities fell, reviving a safe-haven desire for US government paper.
Higher costs from surging freight and raw material prices led Abercrombie & Fitch Co to say it will continue facing headwinds until at least year-end, a day after Snapchat parent Snap Inc said the U.S. economy had worsened faster than expected in April.
U.S. and euro zone business activity slowed in May, with S&P Global attributing the decline in its U.S. Composite PMI Output to “elevated inflationary pressures, a further deterioration in supplier delivery times and weaker demand growth.”
A two-day relief rally in equities was snuffed out as investors took note of sliding corporate profits on persistent supply chain issues, worsened by the Ukraine war, and soaring inflation that has forced consumers to cut discretionary spending. The U.S. economy likely faces a sharp slowdown as the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates to stamp out inflation, according to David Petrosinelli, a senior trader at InspereX.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.69%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.99%. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.37%, the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.33% and the S&P 500 lost 2.16% as it again headed toward a bear market.
“It’s really all about a hard landing and the Fed really being boxed in the corner with only demand-side tools to help,” Petrosinelli said. “They really need to squash demand. “This is going to have a ripple effect for the economy, which is why you’re seeing the price action in stocks and bonds,” he said.
Shares of Snap plummeted 41.1%, dragging down several social media and internet stocks, while Abercrombie fell 29%. In Europe, utilities and commodity-linked stocks led declines but banking shares rose.
European Central Bank Chief Christine Lagarde said she saw the ECB’s deposit rate at zero or “slightly above” by the end of September, implying an increase of at least 50 basis points from its current level. The comments came a day after Lagarde accelerated a policy turnaround that has seen her go from all but ruling out a move this year to penciling in several hikes.
“It has raised jitters in global markets about the possibility at least of a more aggressive move by the ECB,” said Phil Shaw, chief economist at Investec in London. “There were reports overnight that some hawks on the governing council thought her comments yesterday seemed to rule out a 50-basis-point hike, but her remarks today appeared to leave that on the table,” he said. Germany’s 10-year Bund yield fell 7.3 basis points to 0.951%. Treasury yields fell to one-month lows as those on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell 13 basis points to 2.729%. The dollar index fell 0.343%, with the euro up 0.38% to $1.073.
Lagarde’s comments in a blog post on Monday and a swing that drove the U.S. currency to two-decade highs reinforced tactical weakness in the dollar, said Bipan Rai, North America head of FX Strategy at CIBC Capital Markets. “The broader macro backdrop still supports the risk-off take,” Rai said. “The dollar still has more room to run over the medium term.” Markets took some comfort from U.S. President Joe Biden’s comment on Monday that he was considering easing tariffs on China, and from Beijing’s continuing promises of stimulus. Unfortunately, China’s zero-COVID-19 policy and its lockdowns have already done considerable economic damage. JPMorgan cut its forecast for second-quarter Chinese gross domestic product to -5.4% from a prior -1.5% after disappointing data in April.
On an annualized basis, its global forecast for the quarter is 0.6%, the weakest since the great financial crisis outside of 2020. U.S. crude oil recently fell 0.05% to $110.23 per barrel and Brent was at $113.76, up 0.3% on the day.
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