Marketmind: Losing the plot

A look at the day ahead from Julien Ponthus

© Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas FILE PHOTO: A worker holds a nozzle to pump petrol into a vehicle at a fuel station in Mumbai

This week was supposed to be all about the so-called ‘dot plot’ and what kind of rate-rise projections U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers might make.

Came Monday morning though, default worries surrounding Chinese property firm Evergrande triggered a selling storm the likes of which had not been seen for a while. Alongside headlines generated by surging gas prices ahead of winter.

This may not be China’s ‘Lehman moment’, as some have billed it, even if there was a sense of deep finanical trouble on Monday, when Wall Street looked on course for its worst session since its March 2020 crash.

The turmoil came despite two extremely positive developments for equities: the relaxation of U.S. travel restrictions which saw airlines shares skyrocket and Pfizer saying data showed its COVID-19 vaccine was safe and protective in children.

So global markets have stabilised, with MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down only 0.2%, while European and U.S. futures are pointing higher.

Whether this reprieve lasts or proves fleeting will become evident soon — the Fed concludes its meeting on Wednesday and Evergrande is due some bond interest payments on Thursday.

What investors would like to see from the Fed is some sign of a ‘Powell Put’, essentially that the central bank boss might intervene somehow to backstop markets. More realistically, few believe current market instability will change Fed thinking of when the economy might be ready for higher interest rates.

So focus might be on whether hotter-than expected inflation will cause the median of the Fed’s forecasts for the interest rate liftoff to switch to 2022 from the current 2023.

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

– UK public borrowing overshoots forecasts in August

-Britain is considering state loans for energy companies

– Universal Music valued around $39 billion ahead of stock market debut

– Australia c.bank wary in case Delta slows recovery

– Norway to end era of zero interest rates as economy recovers

– Canada’s Trudeau wins another minority in election, claims ‘clear mandate’

– UN General assembly (until Sept 24)

– Biden speech at U.N. to stress U.S. focus on ‘intensive diplomacy,’ official says

Gas prices soar this year https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/zjpqkjymepx/gasprices2009.PNG

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; editing by Sujata Rao)

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