By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — Central banks push back against the bond market bears, pushing yields down. The manufacturing recovery in China slows, but Europe’s and Japans accelerates. The ISM survey is due at 10 AM, along with construction spending data. The FDA approved Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)’s Covid-19 vaccine. Stocks are set to open higher, with Walmart and Zoom Video in focus, and crude oil prices are also up after Iran rejected talks with the U.S., underlining that the path to lifting sanctions on its exports will be long and bumpy. Here’s what you need to know in financial markets on Monday, March 1st.
1. Australia leads central bank pushback against bond bears
The bond market volatility that dominated last week’s trading has subsided, with the first concrete sign of central banks pushing back against those pushing yields higher in anticipation of higher inflation.
The Reserve Bank of Australia bought twice the scheduled amount of long-term bonds at its regular quantitative easing operation overnight, following on from its intervention to keep three-year bond yields at their target level last week. The European Central Bank will also publish later details of its bond purchases last week, which should show how keen the ECB was to avoid what it calls an “unwarranted tightening of financial conditions.”
The Federal Reserve’s John Williams and Lael Brainard may both weigh in on the bond market developments in speeches at 9 AM ET (1400 GMT) and 9:05 (1405) AM ET, respectively. The yield on the U.S. 10-Year note fell back to 1.43% overnight, while the German 10-Year yield fell to -0.30%.
2. China recovery plateaus but Japan, Europe pick up speed; ISM survey due
The economic rebound underlying that bond market sell-off appeared largely intact in the latest round of business surveys around the world. The Japanese purchasing managers index rose to its highest in over two years, while South Korea posted another strong month of exports and imports.
Final PMIs for February were also revised up across most of Europe, with Eurozone manufacturing posting its best reading since early 2018, at 57.9, and the U.K. manufacturing PMI being revised up to 55.1.
China’s Caixin PMI, however, fell to its lowest in nine months. Analysts said the figures were distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday, but the monthly drop was the third in a row and took the index to its lowest in nine months, suggesting that China’s manufacturing recovery is plateauing.
The Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing survey is due at 10 AM ET, along with data on construction spending.
3. Stocks set to open higher after House passes Covid relief bill
U.S. stock markets are set to open higher against the calmer bond market backdrop, able to focus on the progress of the administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill on Saturday.
By 6:20 AM ET, Dow Jones futures were up 273 points, or 0.9%, while S&P 500 futures were up 1.0% and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 1.2%, all three indexes trimming overnight gains somewhat.
Stocks likely to be in focus later include Walmart (NYSE:WMT), which was reported at the weekend to have hired two senior Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) executives to accelerate its plans for a banking operation. The reports may also have a read-across to consumer banking stocks, given the implications for tougher competition.
While earnings season is all but over, Zoom Video Communications’ quarterly update is likely to garner attention, given the recent cooling in the stock price on fears that the Working-From-Home boom may have peaked as the economy prepares to reopen.
4. FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The reopening process got a fresh boost at the weekend as the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine against Covid-19.
The J&J drug is the third vaccine to receive EUA in the U.S. and promises to expand the supply of safe and effective drugs against Covid-19 significantly. Preliminary data suggest it is also largely effective in stopping the spread of disease by people who don’t have symptoms of the disease, an important source of transmission.
Elsewhere, reports suggested that Germany is to reconsider its decision not to approve AstraZeneca’s vaccine for use by over-65s, a decision that has slowed the rollout of vaccines in Europe’s largest economy.
5. Crude oil resumes rally as Iran rejects talks with U.S.
Crude oil futures resumed their upward march against a backdrop of broader risk appetite. Also supporting the move was news over the weekend that Iran had rejected an offer of direct talks with the U.S. over a return to the 2015 UN-backed non-proliferation agreement.
Both the U.S. and Iran are currently in breach of the agreement, with Iran refining uranium metal that analysts say can be adapted for use in nuclear bombs, and the U.S. applying sanctions that have badly hurt Iranian crude exports and the rest of its economy.
By 6 AM ET, U.S. crude futures were up 1.3% at $62.30 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 1.2% at $65.21 a barrel.
Analysts say the rally may be challenged by the start of maintenance season at China’s refineries, slowing demand for crude imports for a while.