Equities slip to close Q1 on a negative note

Equities slipped late last week as the first quarter of 2022 closed out, writes Ian Slattery. 

The week started off on a positive note, as negotiations between Russia and Ukraine had struck an optimistic tone. However, sentiment shifted throughout the week on the news flow from Ukraine.

The week finished off with the US non-farm payrolls release for March. The number of jobs added came in below expectations at 431,000 (est. 490,000) but the growth seen in January and February was revised upwards.

Overall, total US employment is now about 1% short of its pre-pandemic levels. Unemployment also fell 0.2% and now stands at 3.6%, whilst the participation rate suggests that the jobs market is tightening further. The data did nothing to alter the narrative that the Federal Reserve will hike rates aggressively in 2022, and bond markets sold off further as a result. The yield on the two year treasury bond has also moved to a higher level than then 10 year yield, a scenario referred to as ‘yield inversion’.

The US manufacturing PMI slowed to 57.1 in March, although it remains firmly above the 50 level. Markets are now close to fully expecting a 0.5% interest rate move in May.

Oil prices continued their recent downward trajectory as President Biden announced the release of oil from the ‘Strategic Petroleum Reserve’ in a move designed to combat inflationary pressures. However, volatility in energy markets looks set to continue as President Putin is now stipulating that from this week foreign buyers of Russian gas must pay in Roubles.

Elsewhere in Europe the eurozone’s annualised inflation rate has moved to a record 7.5%, as the currency bloc’s unemployment rate moved to a record low of 6.8%.

Equities

Global stocks were down last week by -0.7% in euro terms and down -0.1% in local terms. Year-to-date global markets are down -2.1% in euro terms and -5.0% in local terms. The US market, the largest in the world, was down -1.2% in euro terms and -0.6% in local terms.

Fixed Income & FX

The US 10-year yield finished at 2.41% last week. The German equivalent finished at 0.56%. The Irish 10-year bond yield finished at 1.16% to remain in positive territory. The Euro/US Dollar exchange rate finished at 1.11, whilst Euro/GBP finished at 0.84.

Commodities

Oil finished the week at $100 per barrel and is up 37.1% year-to-date in euro terms. Gold finished the week at $1,924 per troy ounce and is up 8.3% year to-date in euro terms. Copper finished the week at $10,343 per tonne.

The week ahead

Tuesday 5th April

US services and eurozone composite PMI data goes to print.

Wednesday 6th April

The minutes of the latest Fed meeting are released.

Friday 8th April

Chinese inflation data is published.

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