Please see the below weekly market commentary update from Brooks Macdonald received yesterday (1st June 2020):
All eyes on the European Central Bank
- Donald Trump’s press conference relieved markets by steering clear of a re-escalation of tariffs
- The European Central Bank (ECB) will consider expanding their quantitative easing programme this week
- However, this may reduce the perceived urgency of an EU recovery fund
Markets continued their strong run last week as economies reopen, stimulus is on the agenda and economic data picks up from its COVID-19 lows.
Donald Trump’s press conference relieved markets by steering clear of a re-escalation of tariff
On Friday, Donald Trump held a press conference to announce that Hong Kong would lose its special trading rights with the US. He added that Chinese and Hong Kong officials would be subject to sanctions in relation to their actions in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy. Nonetheless, markets rallied. The view is very much that Donald Trump held back compared to what actions he could have taken with no re-escalation in tariffs or talk of withdrawing from the Phase One deal. Investors have taken this is a hopeful indication that the US President wishes to avoid the financial and economic ramifications of a step up in trade tensions.
The European Central Bank (ECB) will consider expanding their quantitative easing programme this week
The main event this week is likely to be the ECB meeting. Markets will be watching this closely to see whether there is talk of extending the pandemic quantitative easing (QE) programme, or any reference to the German Constitutional Court decision. Given the lack of agreement around an EU recovery fund, ECB officials will be pondering whether they need to step in to keep peripheral bond spreads under control. Italian spreads rallied when the Merkel/Macron plan was unveiled but given that agreement on the EU fiscal package seems unlikely to arrive imminently the central bank will be cautious of a retrenchment.
However, this may reduce the perceived urgency of an EU recovery fund
There has been a significant debate about the efficacy of QE in the post financial crisis world. Critics say that the depression of funding costs tends to raise asset prices more than it helps the real economy. While the markets would undoubtedly appreciate the pandemic programme being expanded in size and duration, the read across to a boost in economic growth is not clear. The EU recovery fund talks continue in the background, but if there is a perception that the ECB has already done ‘enough’ by expanding their purchase programme, talks could falter. Herein lies the risk to the broader economic stability of Europe, a fiscal response could fail to materialise and the ECB covers the cracks by suppressing bond yields. This will simply ensure the divide within Europe just grows below the surface and will pose an even greater risk during the next crisis.
Another useful commentary into the market activity last week. The markets have had a rally over the last week and into this week. We do expect the volatility to continue and further drops could be around the corner as global economies continue to recover and fight against Covid-19. These commentaries from a range of fund managers help add context to the daily market fluctuations.