Marketmind: Fed steals focus, stocks sell off

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Kevin Buckland

The dominating theme in global financial markets is once again central bank policy, and equity investors in particular are worried.

U.S. data is showing a flare-up in inflationary pressures, just as markets had become comfortable with the idea of a Goldilocks scenario replete with soft landings and less hot labour markets.

Even ultra-resilient Japanese stocks seem to have finally succumbed, with the Nikkei threatening to snap an eight-day winning streak. Markets in China and Australia took another steep step down.

Investors weren’t in the mood for any glass-half-full interpretations of Chinese trade data either, which were dreary but not as dire as economists had predicted.

Steadfast efforts by China’s central bank to prop up a drooping yuan by setting stronger-than-consensus official midpoints haven’t prevented the currency from hovering on the weaker side of the closely watched 7.3 per dollar line.

The dollar continues to overpower all its rivals, popping to a new 10-month peak versus the yen, despite Japanese finance ministry warnings.

It’s staying close to Wednesday’s three-month top to the euro as well. Traders have preferred to trust the data over protestations from ECB officials that the tightening cycle may not be over ahead of next week’s policy meeting.

German industrial production figures are due today, with the euro bloc’s giant threatening to slip back into recession.

Federal Reserve officials will be speaking en masse at a fintech conference hosted by the Philly Fed, before they soon enter the blackout period on public comments heading toward their own policy meeting.

And let us not forget the G-20 meetings kicking off in India that will offer more chances to read the economic tea leaves.

Not China’s though, with President Xi Jinping choosing to sit this one out. It’s a worrying sign to some, not just because the Chinese economy is one of the biggest risks for the global outlook, but it continues a trend of decoupling from the West.

Vladimir Putin, of course, is also not attending.

Key developments that could influence markets on Thursday:

Germany industrial output

UK house prices

Euro area revised GDP

US jobless claims

Philadelphia Fed hosts fintech conference

India hosts G-20 meetings

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)