Marketmind: The ECB’s inflation conundrum

A look at the day ahead from Tommy Wilkes.

The European Central Bank meets later on Thursday and all eyes will be on its comments about the outlook for inflation.

Will it or won’t it become the latest central bank to warn that price pressures are more severe — and less transitory — than they appeared a few months ago?

The difficulty for the ECB is that it wants to maintain its ultra-dovish stance to boost the region’s economy, but at the same time, it must face up to inflation expectations that are running at seven-year highs above 2%.

The prospect of slowing economic growth and central bank policy tightening is flattening bond yield curves worldwide — taking longer-dated borrowing costs lower. Europe is no exception, with German 10-year yields on Wednesday seeing their biggest daily drop in eight months.

A busy day for central bank activity elsewhere too. The Bank of Japan delivered another dovish statement, projecting inflation to stay below target for at least two more years. It just reinforces the view it will lag others in dialling back crisis-mode policies.

The Reserve Bank of Australia, meanwhile, skipped a chance to buy a government bond at the heart of its stimulus programme, sending yields soaring above target and raising wagers it will become yet another bank opting for an early rate hike.

Supply chain disruptions continue to dominate the earnings season, with Volkswagen the latest carmaker to report lower-than-expected operating profit, partly because of the chip shortage.

Samsung reported its highest quarterly profit in three years but expect component shortages to affect chip demand.

Stock markets have pulled back, with Germany’s DAX opening 0.2% lower and Wall Street futures only marginally higher.

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Thursday:

-ECB meeting

-German unemployment/prelim CPI Oct (4.4% Y/Y/ Reuters poll)

-Euro zone consumer inflation expectations Oct

-Norway Central Bank Governor Øystein Olsen speaks

-Emerging markets: Egypt central bank meeting

-U.S. flash GDP Q3 (2.8% Reuters poll)

-U.S. core PCE flash Q3 (4.5% Reuters poll)

-U.S. Initial jobless claims

-U.S. 7-yr note auction

-U.S. earnings: Allegheny, AllianceBernstein, Caterpillar, Comcast, Hershey, Mastercard, Merck, Newmont Mining, Moody’s, Royal Caribbean Cruises, T-Rowe Price, Yum Brands, Amazon, Apple, Gilead Sciences, Starbucks, United States Steel,

(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes, editing by Sujata Rao)

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