Greece fears sink European stocks
(Financial Times) — Markets are having difficulty establishing a bullish platform as continuing worries over the eurozone counteract news of more monetary easing in China.
The FTSE All-World equity index is down 0.4 per cent as the FTSE Eurofirst opens with a loss of 0.8 per cent and Asia is off 0.4 per cent.
SP 500 futures point to Wall Street falling 0.4 per cent later in the day, on course to close at its lowest mark in nine weeks. Gold is down 0.1 per cent to $1,577 a troy ounce, close to its cheapest this year.
Overall, the mood is once again risk-averse, as can be gauged by the performance of traditional barometers. The dollar index, which tends to be inversely correlated to trader optimism, is up 0.2 per cent, while money is moving into highly rated fixed income, with yields on US 10-year bonds down 2 basis points to 1.82 per cent.
Coalition talks continue in Greece
Greeks in last-ditch government talks
Can anyone govern Greece?
The euro is stable, but its level of $1.2889 represents a near-four month low, its decline testament to one of the important factors hampering the broader market of late.
Investors have reached their desks on Monday with the news that politicians in Greece have failed once again to agree a coalition government. This has increased the likelihood — according to polls — that the election in June may deliver a government that will cancel the IMF-EU bailout agreement, renege on debt repayments and possibly cause Greece to be forced out of the euro.
Traders are uncertain what impact such turmoil could have on the political and economic climate of the continent. Though clearly negative, the question for investors is how much this worse case scenario may have been discounted by the market.
The other worry is how much the Athens shenanigans will infect sentiment towards other fiscally strapped eurozone nations. The market will have an eye on an auction of Spanish sovereign debt later in the week. In the meantime, the bloc’s debt sector is showing signs of stress, with Spain’s benchmark 10-year yield up 8bp to 6.08 per cent.
One factor that was initially proving mildly supportive to risk assets was Beijing’s move to encourage lending by China’s banks. Early gains for Chinese stocks have been lost, however, and the the Shanghai Composite is down 0.4 per cent as investors realise that such a move by the central bank is only deemed necessary because of the recent slowdown in growth in the world’s second-biggest economy.
“We consider this policy move as a response to the weaker than expected April economic and new loan data,” analysts at Deutsche Bank said.
Indeed, the Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a basket of the world’s heavily traded commodities, closed last week at its lowest level in 19 months as investors became more worried about demand for resources as the global economy struggles for traction.
Confirmation of this trend can be seen in futures markets where data from the US exchanges shows speculative traders sharply cutting their bullish bets across the commodity spectrum.
For the week ending May 8, the latest data available, such investors reduced net long positions by 19 per cent, the biggest fall since November. The oil market fared particularly badly, with traders reducing bullish bets on crude by the equivalent of $8bn, the biggest ever weekly cut, according to Bloomberg.
On Monday, the price of US-traded WTI crude is down another 0.7 per cent to $95.43 a barrel. Copper is off 1.2 per cent to $3.61 a pound.
Little wonder that other assets normally tightly correlated with resources have also been struggling in recent weeks. The Australian dollar has dipped below parity with its US namesake for the first time since December, though it is currently down just 4 pips to $1.0003.
Additional reporting by Song Jung-a in Seoul
© The Financial Times Limited 2012