US equity futures advance, currencies fluctuate: markets wrap
US and European share futures climbed while a benchmark of Asian stocks fell in cautious trading as investors weighed the risk of recession and its impact on interest rates. Major currencies fluctuated in narrow ranges.
Contracts for the S&P 500 rose around 0.3% on Monday after the US benchmark posted a small gain on Friday. An Asian gauge slid 0.5%, weighed down by Hong Kong stocks. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp plunged as much as 7.7% on lower earnings while Chinese developers headed for a third straight drop after Greenland Holdings Group warned of further slowing in housing.
Sentiment in China was also dented by industrial profits data registering a decline in the first two months of the year as factories had yet to fully recover from a Covid-induced slump.
Traders are in for another bumpy week, with the banking crisis casting a shadow over markets. On top of that, multiple Federal Reserve officials will speak, a key measure of US inflation is due and there are renewed geopolitical tensions with Russia to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Fed Minneapolis president Neel Kashkari said over the weekend that bank turmoil had increased the risk of a US recession.
Authorities are said to be considering expanding an emergency lending facility for US banks in ways that would give First Republic Bank more time to shore up its balance sheet. Yet investors in the bond market already see the wider damage in the sector running its course. They’re piling into wagers that a recession is around the corner and bets on any further interest rate hikes this year are being axed while expectations for rate cuts ramp up.
A gauge of greenback strength was little changed, along with the yen, which gave back earlier gains made on haven demand. Hong Kong’s dollar slid and stayed near the weak end of its allowed trading band of 7.85 per US dollar, boosting expectations of an intervention by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
Treasury yields were little changed in early Asian trading on Monday. The rate on the benchmark 10-year declined five basis points on Friday. Bond yields in Australia and New Zealand headed lower.
In the stock market on Friday, after a slide that reached 1% in the first hour of trading, the S&P 500 snapped back and notched its second straight week of gains. A gauge of US financial heavyweights climbed from its lowest level since November 2020.
“The recent banking crisis has heightened fears of a recession,” Ed Yardeni, president and chief investment strategist of his eponymous research firm, said in a note on Monday. Still, Yardeni has not increased the odds of recession despite the pressure facing lenders and places a 60% probability of a soft landing. “We’re not convinced it will lead to a credit crunch that triggers a recession.”
Top US regulators said after a meeting on Friday that while some banks are coming under stress, the overall financial system is still sound.
Global authorities continued trying to instill calm in financial markets following the recent failure of some US regional lenders and the near-collapse of banking giant Credit Suisse Group AG before its government-brokered takeover by rival UBS Group AG. European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde told European Union leaders that the region’s banking sector is strong, according to people familiar with the matter.
“The markets are definitely taking a wait-and-see approach,” Carol Schleif at BMO Family Office said on Bloomberg Radio. “We were told a couple weeks ago we were going to be a lot more data dependent than we’ve been able to be.”
Elsewhere, oil was little changed after a weekly gain. Gold was steady. BM/DM