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Stocks caught in crosshairs of earnings and central bank meetings

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October 28, 2021

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Global stocks traded in narrow ranges near recent record highs on Thursday as investors digested a stream of mixed earnings ahead of key central bank meetings.

The MSCI All World Stock Index was little changed at 741 points, barely below its lifetime high of 749.16 points hit last month. In Europe, the STOXX index of 600 companies was also flat at 474 points, some two points below its record high from August.

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Markets awaited the European Central Bank’s meeting later in the morning, with the U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of England meetings next week also a focus against the backdrop of inflationary pressures from bottlenecks in global supply chains.

“The markets are caught in a bit of a no-man’s land of optimism that earnings are going to continue to be positive, against pessimism that inflation is going to crimp profit margins,” said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

“Even if there has been no evidence of that, we need to get these central bank meetings out of the way as they are keeping investors on tenterhooks,” Hewson said.

The impact of bottlenecks on sectors like autos was further highlighted on Thursday by Volkswagen , its shares falling 2.4% after the German car giant cut its outlook for deliveries as a shortage of computer chips led to lower-than-expected operating profit in the third quarter.

In Asia, Japan’s robot maker Fanuc tumbled 7.8% while IT conglomerate Fujitsu shed 8.4% as their earning showed a bigger than expected impact from a global chips shortages.

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Oil prices eased to their lowest in two weeks after official figures showed a surprise jump in U.S. inventories of crude, while rising cases of COVID-19 in Europe, Russia and some outbreaks in China dented hopes for a global? economic recovery. [O/R]

Brent fell 1% to $83.78 per barrel, off Monday’s seven-year high of $86.70. U.S. crude fetched $81.80 per barrel, down 1% and off a seven-year high of $85.41 hit on Monday.

Investors will scrutinise advance third quarter U.S. economic growth figures ahead of Wall Street’s open for clues on the pace of recovery in the world’s biggest economy after a surge in COVID-19 infections.

Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 lost 0.51% from an all-time high of 4,574.79 hit on Tuesday, while the Nasdaq closed the session little changed.The ECB is expected to keep policy unchanged and push back against growing expectations for an interest rate hike next year, even though it may admit that inflation will be higher than projected.

The euro was steady at $1.1612 ahead of the ECB’s policy announcement later in the day.

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Euro zone inflation expectations

https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/xmvjolwdgpr/euro%20zone%20inflation.PNG

ASIA EASES ON CHIP WORRIES

Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.9% while mainland Chinese shares slipped 0.7%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked down 0.3% amid worries over the impact of chip shortages.

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“The working assumption in the market has been that the impact of a chip shortage will fade by the end of year. But if it remains a problem next year, investors will surely feel less confident about the outlook,” said Masayuki Murata, general manager of balanced portfolio investment at Sumitomo Life Insurance.

The Bank of Canada ended its quantitative easing sooner than expected and signalled on Wednesday that it could hike interest rates earlier than previously thought, as soon as April 2022.

Longer-dated yields fell in part because a tighter monetary policy is likely to tame inflation and could derail the economic recovery down the road.

The 10-year U.S. notes yields dropped to 1.559%, compared with a five-month peak of 1.705% touched a week ago.

“Long-dated yields are falling because of concerns that tighter monetary policies will restrain the economy in the longer run,” said Naokazu Koshimizu, senior rates strategist at Nomura Securities.

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The yen showed limited response to the Bank of Japan’s decision to keep its policy on hold and stood at 113.62 per dollar, slightly down.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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Exclusive-KNDS readies 650 million euro binding bid for Leonardo units – sources

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December 2, 2021

By Angelo Amante, Francesca Landini and Elisa Anzolin

ROME (Reuters) – KMW+Nexter Defence Systems (KNDS) is close to making a 650 million euro ($736 million) binding bid for Leonardo’s OTO Melara and Wass units, three sources said on Thursday, in a move that could strengthen its position in the land defence sector.

The Franco-German consortium is conducting due diligence on the two units that Italian defence group Leonardo has put on the block and could submit its offer by the end of the year or early 2022, the sources familiar with the matter said.

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KNDS is pitted against Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, which expressed an interest in the units but has not started formal due diligence and has put forward a less generous proposal so far, the sources said.

The Italian government, which controls both Leonardo and Fincantieri, is determined to have the final say on the deal.

As Europe pushes for closer cooperation on defence, Rome wants to keep open the door for cooperation between domestic and foreign groups, political sources have said, but also wants to protect jobs and growth at home.

As part of its proposal, KNDS has offered to include Italy in the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) tank project, an option that would give Leonardo the possibility of offering its sensors and electronics for the new tank.

OTO Melara, which makes naval and terrestrial cannons, would also fit into KNDS’s portfolio and strengthen its hand in a 2.2 billion euro contract that the Italian army is due to launch in the near future.

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OTO Melara is currently a tank supplier to the Italian army together with Iveco Defence Vehicles, while Wass produces torpedoes.

Fincantieri, which started informal talks with Leonardo over OTO Melara and Wass before KNDS’ approach, could decide to join forces with other groups, the sources said.

($1 = 0.8836 euros)

(Additional reporting by Christina Amann in Berlin Writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Mark Potter)

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Fed’s Quarles says regulatory overkill could stifle stablecoin innovation

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December 2, 2021

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Randal Quarles, the former regulatory chief of the Federal Reserve, said on Thursday that U.S. regulators may “unnecessarily” hamper innovation around so-called stablecoins if they pursue recent recommendations put forward by a Biden administration working group.

Quarles, who will leave the Fed’s Board of Governors at the end of the month, said regulators must show “reasoned constraint” on monitoring stablecoins, which are digital currencies whose value are pegged to traditional assets like the dollar. He added that banks should be allowed to engage with them once certain concerns around transparency, stability and consumer protection are met.

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“It is clear that there is a strong demand for these assets among bank customers, and well-regulated banks should be allowed to engage in activities regarding these assets,” he said in a virtual appearance at an American Enterprise Institute event in Washington.

Quarles specifically cited a recommendation that any stablecoin issuers or “wallet providers” have limited access to other commercial entities, calling it needlessly stricter than rules for nondigital assets.

The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets published a report in November calling on Congress to pass a new law to apply bank-like scrutiny to stablecoin providers.

In his final speech at the Fed, Quarles laid out a series of recommendations for the central bank following his exit. President Joe Biden has yet to nominate his replacement.

For example, Quarles also said the Fed should consider easing its “globally systemic” capital surcharge for the nation’s largest banks, particularly as regulators move to finalize added global capital restrictions known as “Basel III.”

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He said the Fed’s plan to finalize those new rules would come after his exit from the U.S. central bank, and said there will be “little justification” for keeping the G-SIB surcharge at its current high level once it’s done.

He also argued the Fed should consider averaging the results of its annual stress test of bank finances over several years to result in a more consistent capital level, and that the central bank needs to address “perverse implications” of current leverage requirements that could discourage banks from holding safe assets in times of stress.

(Reporting by Pete SchroederEditing by Paul Simao)

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S&P 500, Dow climb on boost from financials, Boeing

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December 2, 2021

By Devik Jain and Anisha Sircar

(Reuters) – The Dow and the S&P 500 rebounded on Thursday, boosted by financials shares and Boeing as rising cases of the new Omicron variant globally continued to drive volatility across markets.

Boeing Co jumped 3.5% after China’s aviation authority issued an airworthiness directive on the 737 MAX jets that will help pave the way for the model’s return to service in China.

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Kroger Co surged 9.9% to top the S&P 500 after the retailer raised full-year sales and profit forecasts, boosted by sustained demand for groceries.

Travel and leisure stocks bounced back, with S&P 1500 Airlines and the S&P 1500 Hotels, Restaurant and Leisure indexes rising 4.5% and 2.8%, respectively.

All of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading, with eight of them surging more than 1% each. Financials led the pack, up 2.3%.

Wall Street’s main indexes closed below key technical levels on Wednesday, with the Dow breaching its 200-day moving average for the first time since July 2020 on growing angst about the latest coronavirus variant and the Federal Reserve’s hawkish comments.

“It is a bit of a ‘buy the dip’ environment … uncertainty will persist over the next week or so as scientists do more studies over the new variant,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

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“I still think investors want to focus on equities, they just need to be given a reason to do so.”

Wall Street whipsawed this week as investors scrambled for bargains after every drawdown. Still, the three indexes are tracking sharp weekly losses, with the Dow on pace for its fourth straight fall.

The United States and Germany joined countries around the globe planning stricter COVID-19 restrictions as the Omicron variant rattled markets, fearful it could choke a tentative economic recovery from the pandemic.

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was last trading at 28.6 points, a day after hitting its highest level since February.

At 10:27 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 462.69 points, or 1.36%, at 34,484.73 and the S&P 500 was up 43.36 points, or 0.96%, at 4,556.40.

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The Nasdaq Composite was up 31.90 points, or 0.21%, at 15,285.96, supported by shares of Amazon.com, Tesla Inc, Microsoft Corp and Nvidia Corp.

Apple Inc fell 2.7% after Bloomberg reported about slowing demand for Apple’s iPhone 13.

Meanwhile, lawmakers reached an agreement to fund the U.S. government until Feb. 18 as they scramble to avoid a partial government shutdown this weekend.

Stellar earnings reports and strong economic growth have powered U.S. stocks to a series of record highs in November, with the S&P 500 climbing 20.1% so far this year.

A Reuters poll of equity analysts said a correction was likely in the next six months, with the benchmark expected to gain 7.5% between now and end-2022 to finish at 4,910.

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Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.63-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.43-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and nine new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded seven new highs and 393 new lows.

(Reporting by Devik Jain and Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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