David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    EU Squeezes Hard on Russia, Sweeping In Oil, Bank, Business

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    The European Union plans to ban Russian crude oil over the next six months and refined fuels by the end

    of the year as part of a sixth round of sanctions to increase pressure on Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

    “This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in remarks to the European Parliament. “We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion, in a way that allows us and our partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimizes the impact on global markets.”

    Hungary and Slovakia, which are heavily reliant on Russian energy and had opposed a sudden cut-off of oil, will be granted a longer timeframe -- until the end of 2023 -- to enforce the sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter.

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    U.S. Cuts Quarterly Debt Sale, May Do So Again Even With Fed QT

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    The Treasury Department said in a statement Wednesday that it will sell $103 billion of long-term securities at auctions next week -- down $7 billion from February. This marks the longest string of quarterly cuts since a 2014-2015 cycle. In a surprise for some dealers, it’s also trimming sales of two-year, three-year and five-year auctions in coming months.

    “The issuance plans announced today leave Treasury well positioned” with regard to necessary borrowing, the department said in its statement. However, “additional reductions in future quarters may be necessary depending on future developments in projected borrowing needs.”

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    Rogoff Sees Fed Hiking Rates Up to 5% as Prices 'Out of Control'

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    Fed Chair Jerome Powell and his colleagues are expected to raise interest rates by 50 basis points on Wednesday and signal they’re on track to lift them to around 2.5% by the end of the year. But it’s not clear if that’ll be enough to tame inflation, which is running at more than three times the central bank’s 2% target. 

    Rogoff spoke about the “risks of having a perfect storm” of recessions, where European economic growth contracts because of Russia’s war in Ukraine, China’s does the same due to “a failed Covid lockdown policy,” and the U.S. economy shrinks because the Fed “tightens too much, too fast.”  

    “If China has a supply recession, which is really what we’re talking about, that’s going to feed inflation, it’s going to hurt demand in Europe,” Rogoff said. “I would say the risk has risen palpably, that this might happen,” he said of a U.S. economic contraction that would hit global financial markets. 

    “Things could work out well, and so there’s a lot of uncertainty -- but it’s not hard to see all of these risks,” he said, adding that China “might already be bordering on recession.”

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    Politburo Brightens Mood for China Stocks After Gloomy Month

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    “The meeting addressed most of the pressing issues in the economy and is intended to boost confidence and turn around negative sentiment,” said Xiong Yuan, chief economist at Guosheng Securities. “It’s a rare exception that the Politburo publishes the statement during the trading day. Clearly it’s meant to incentivize investors to hold on to positions ahead of the holiday.

    China’s top leaders responded to calls from investors and analysts alike to revive an economy hurt by Covid lockdowns that this week spread to Beijing and Yiwu, disrupting business operations and roiling global supply chains. The Politburo’s readout -- which was released at the earliest time of day of any since at least January 2017 -- came ahead of a five-day break for onshore markets.

    While headwinds for China’s economy and markets still remain, in particular the government’s adherence to Covid Zero, traders are now asking whether this can be the long-awaited market bottom. 

    The CSI 300 Index jumped 2.4% Friday, trimming this year’s loss to 19%. That still makes it one of the world’s worst performing national benchmarks, far outpacing the 13% decline in MSCI Inc.’s Asia Pacific gauge.

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    Rba Rate Rise Knocks the Wind Out of ASX

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    The Australian sharemarket hit a downdraft when the Reserve Bank of Australia raised interest rates by a surprisingly large 25 basis points yesterday, as the markets digested the implications of rising debt costs.

    The ASX 200 dropped 0.4 per cent, or 30.8 points to close at 7316.2 with tech stocks, the health care and industrials the only sectors to close in the black. Miners like BHP, Fortescue and Rio sunk after iron ore prices slumped overnight. Fortescue led the declines with a 4.8 per cent share price drop and Rio Tinto closed 1.5 per cent lower.

    Finance stocks also took a hit with ratings agency Standard & Poor's saying home loan arrears are likely to drift up from historically low levels following yesterday's increase in interest rates.

    Russel Chesler, head of investments at VanEck, said higher credit costs are likely to dent big bank profits.

    "Locally, we are likely to see the big banks come under pressure in the month ahead as higher rates dent the banks' earnings from mortgages and bad debts could jump on higher credit costs." He expects companies which act like an inflation hedge, like gold and infrastructure, are likely to outperform. And despite the drop yesterday, rising commodity prices are expected to support the big miners through 2022.

    "In this environment, with inflation running hot and interest rates rising, companies, including cyclical stocks, that can increase their prices and keep their customers at the same time, are likely to outperform," he said.

    In other news, the chief executives of Australia's two largest private employers, Woolworths and Wesfarmers have thrown their support behind an increase in workers' wages amid persistently rising inflation and a tightening labour market.

    There was also good news about the pandemic recovery, Transurban chief executive Scott Charlton said toll-road traffic has fully rebounded in Australia and is almost at normal levels in the US as businesses and consumers emerge from the pandemic.

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    Exxon Triples Share Buybacks to $30 Billion as Profits Soar

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    Exxon Mobil Corp. tripled its share-buyback program to as much as $30 billion after profits surged amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a rally in worldwide energy prices.

    The repurchases will be made through the end of next year, Exxon said in a statement on Friday. The oil giant more than doubled first-quarter adjusted net income to $8.8 billion, or $2.07 a share, lagging estimates by 17 cents.

    Chief Executive Executive Darren Woods cited a dip in output from oil and natural gas wells stemming from adverse weather and other factors. Exxon rose 0.3% to $87.43 at 9:33 a.m. in New York.

    The oil giant took a $3.4 billion writedown due to its planned exit from its Sakhalin-1 operation in Russia, compared with a previously announced estimate of as much as $4 billion. The company declared force majeure at the venture earlier this week and curtailed crude production. 

    Exxon follows TotalEnergies SE and Chevron Corp. in posting first-quarter results. The French oil titan pledged to buyback as much as $3 billion in shares before the end of June while Chevron disclosed its biggest profit in almost a decade.   

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    Bank of Russia Rejects Ruble-Gold Peg Idea, Differs With Kremlin

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    Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina dismissed the idea of pegging the ruble to gold after the Kremlin said it was a proposal under consideration.

    “It is not being discussed in any way,” Nabiullina told reporters at a briefing Friday after the central bank cut the key interest rate by 300 basis points. The ruble must continue to have a floating exchange rate, she said, though volatility of the currency will be higher amid capital controls imposed after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

    Her comment appeared to contradict President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who said earlier Friday that “this question is now being discussed.” Peskov pointed to comments by Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev on linking the currency to gold and other commodities in an interview with a state-run newspaper this week, while offering no further details.

    Unprecedented sanctions on Russia’s central bank over the invasion of Ukraine deprived it of access to about half of its holdings, leaving it in possession of only gold and yuan. Before the war, Putin repeatedly argued that Russia needs to cut dependence on the dollar as a global reserve currency.

    Speculation has been rife that sanctions on Russia may herald a far-reaching shift that could bolster bullion. Analysts like Credit Suisse Group AG’s Zoltan Pozsar predict that the seizure of the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves will result in a new monetary paradigm where gold plays a greater role.

    Speaking with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Patrushev said experts are examining proposals to back the ruble’s value with gold and other goods as part of an alternative system of finance that guarantees a measure of sovereignty and reduces the link to the dollar.

    Continuing a multi-year effort to reduce exposure to the U.S. currency, the Russian central bank cut the share of dollars in reserves to 10.9% as of Jan. 1 from from 21.2% a year earlier. Gold was down slightly at 21.5%.

    Until the invasion of Ukraine forced Nabiullina to enact capital controls, the ruble was allowed to trade freely since 2014, its value determined by the market. 

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