It was a calmer end for stock markets in a volatile week but crypto was not so fortunate after China’s State Council repeated its warning about Bitcoin mining and trading as central banks appear to be increasing their scrutiny of crypto at a time when many of them are introducing their own digital currencies. Concerns over increased regulations, especially in China where the bulk of Crypto mining takes place, taken together with ESG issues as focus turns to the environmental costs of mining crypto, threaten to do more damage. Volatility continued over the weekend, with Bitcoin and other crypto undergoing sharp moves. Crypto volatility threatens to find its way into other markets, with for example, US equities positively correlated to moves in crypto while the US dollar (USD) could benefit.
There was at least a little relief for markets in terms of inflation angst, with market inflation measures (breakevens) falling while commodities, another factor fueling inflation fears, continued to come off the boil. It seems that the Federal Reserve’s dovish message may finally be sinking in even as the Fed FOMC minutes noted that they are planning on discussing tapering at some point, rather than previously not even thinking about thinking of tapering. US Treasury yields have been capped amid the cooling in inflation fears while rate sensitive equities, especially Tech are likely to find some solace. The USD has struggled over recent weeks but the recent rise in real yields will likely offer some support.
There was yet more evidence that the US economy is powering ahead, with measures of manufacturing and services sentiment as reflected in Markit purchasing managers indices (PMIs), rising to record highs as fiscal support and an improving COVID-19 outlook continue to boost optimism. While US economic data has been strengthening, markets have become accustomed to positive US releases and therefore any reaction is likely to be more muted. Indeed, the Citi Economic Surprise Index, a measure of US data relative to expectations, is near its lowest since June 2020.
This week is relatively light on the data front. The key US data release is the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report, something that the Federal Reserve looks at closely, on Friday; consensus expectations are for a 2.3% quarter on quarter (q/q) increase in core PCE in Q1. A number of Fed speakers will also be on the wires and their comments will be scrutinized on any further elaboration on “discussing a plan” on tapering. There will also be a few central bank decisions including in Hungary (Tue), Indonesia (Tue), New Zealand (Wed), and Korea (Thu). No changes are likely from any of these central banks.