Marketmind: Markets get twitchy as debt ceiling, growth fears weigh

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Ankur Banerjee

Signs of an economic slowdown across the globe, lingering worries over the U.S. debt ceiling and ever-present fear of a deepening banking sector crisis have kept investors skittish and risk averse through the week and Friday has been no different.

The MSCI Asia ex-Japan index eased 0.5%, with Japan’s Nikkei indeed the exception, as it has been for the year, rising 0.8% on the day. The U.S. dollar was clinging to Thursday gains and was set to snap a two-week losing streak. Gold remained steady while short-covering pushed oil prices higher.

Investor focus will turn to a slew of economic data out of Europe, with British gross domestic product data showcasing the state of economy and likely influencing sterling’s fate. The pound was still reeling from a dive on Thursday after the Bank of England raised interest rates and kept the door open for further monetary tightening.

Also on the deck will be inflation reports from France and Spain that will highlight what kind of impact European tightening has had on prices in the region.

Data in U.S. hours showed the labour market might be showing signs of cracks, whereas inflation eased a bit, leading traders to bet that the Federal Reserve is likely done with tightening.

Meanwhile, worries over national debt remain, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen due to discuss the impasse over raising the government debt ceiling with board members of the Bank Policy Institute lobby group next week.

A meeting between President Joe Biden and top lawmakers scheduled for Friday has been postponed, stoking further investor concern. The federal government could run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1 – in two and a half weeks – if the ceiling is not raised.

Elsewhere, the U.S. regional banking saga shows no sign of stopping, with PacWest Bancorp the latest to face investor ire after the Los Angeles-based lender said deposits declined and that it had posted more collateral to the Fed to boost liquidity.

“The news headlines increased our customers’ fears of the safety of their deposits,” the bank said.

Finally, it looks like Twitter will soon have a new CEO. Elon Musk said (on Twitter, naturally) he has found a new chief executive for the social media site, but did not name the person, while the Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino was in talks for the job.

Key developments that could influence markets on Friday:

Economic events: UK first-quarter GDP data, industrial output, inflation data for France and Spain

Speakers: Bank of England’s Huw Pill, Riksbank’s Deputy Governor Per Jansson

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Singapore; Editing by Christopher Cushing)