Havens in Demand as Deutsche Bank Sees Balance of Risks Shifting
(Bloomberg) -- Once-bullish global risk sentiment is starting to cede ground to pockets of angst.
Surging commodity prices and rising inflation expectations have given way to rallies in havens from Treasuries to the Japanese yen this week, while pockets of the tech world are in crisis. Investors are once again questioning the strength of the global recovery and mulling the threat of new Covid-19 variants and prospective central bank tightening -- in particular by the Federal Reserve.
“The balance of risks is slightly more negative given the continued global reach of the delta variant and the reaction to the FOMC,” Deutsche Bank AG economist David Folkerts-Landau wrote in a report Tuesday. “One of the biggest questions soon will be the extent to which governments and citizens are prepared to live with the virus. That answer will have crucial implications for the shape of the recovery and the new steady-state we’re heading to.”
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields slumped Tuesday to touch their lowest since February after a key gauge of U.S. service-sector activity fell more than expected, raising concern over the strength of the economic rebound. Brent crude futures, which hit their highest since 2018 after OPEC+ talks over production increases collapsed this week, reversed course to give up this month’s gains.
With the world’s central bankers taking a data-dependent approach, investors are parsing every economic release for clues as to how it might affect their thinking. While Tuesday’s U.S. services data showed record order backlogs, traders focused instead on its weaker employment measure and a slight decline in prices paid, which suggested an acceleration in cost pressures may be starting to cool.
U.S. stocks snapped a streak of seven consecutive closing record highs, led lower by economically-sensitive energy and financial shares. Traditional haven the Japanese yen strengthened, pushing the currency to a two-week high against the dollar.
Also spooking traders was the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, even in countries like Israel which has one of the world’s most effective inoculation drives. Many new Covid-19 cases are among vaccinated people, according to Ynet news service, while a report showed Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine was less effective at preventing the virus, even though it provided a strong shield against severe illness.
Meanwhile, China’s technology stocks are withering under increasing regulatory scrutiny as investors brace for a new era of tighter oversight from Beijing. An index of the country’s internet shares has fallen to the lowest since September.
And there are signs of concern over the nation’s pace of economic recovery. A former central bank official said policy makers should cut interest rates in the second half of the year.
Still, the angst in pockets of the financial market has yet to lead to broader weakness. A gauge of global stocks is trading just off an all-time closing high set Friday and benchmark yields remain up more than 40 basis points this year.
Investor focus now turns to the release of Federal Reserve meeting minutes Wednesday that should bring fresh insight on its monetary policy.
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