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Markets Recover As Geopolitical Risk Premia Evaporate

The dollar is retreating and Treasury yields are slipping as geopolitical tensions ease and traders shift focus toward more prosaic market drivers. After a weekend in which Israel and Iran refrained from further escalation, North American equity indices are setting up for a positive open, oil and safe-haven gold prices are heading lower, and a range of major currencies are inching higher against the greenback. With Federal Reserve officials entering their pre-decision blackout period, corporate earnings releases, government bond auctions, and a series of economic data releases look likely to take centre stage in driving foreign exchange outcomes through the...

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Israeli Strike Triggers Short-Lived Volatility Spike

Foreign exchange markets are slowly reverting to normal after suffering a major selloff last night when Israel launched strikes against targets near the Iranian city of Isfahan – home to facilities associated with the country’s nuclear program, including its underground Natanz enrichment site. Risk-sensitive currencies plunged amid a wholesale flight to safety as initial reports flooded in, but reaction began to fade as officials in both countries downplayed the action, portraying it as a limited retaliatory strike aimed at avoiding an escalatory cycle that could push the Middle East closer toward war. Iranian state media claimed air defence systems had...

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Dollar Juggernaut Slows, But Remains Powerful

Treasury yields are slipping and the dollar appears on the verge of snapping a five-day winning streak, but losses look likely to remain moderate after Fed chair Jerome Powell effectively reset the clock on rate cuts, suggesting that the central bank would need to see several more monthly inflation reports before beginning to ease policy. Speaking during a question-and-answer session in Washington yesterday, Powell said “The recent data have clearly not given us greater confidence” in inflation’s return to target, and “instead indicate that it is likely to take longer than expected to achieve that confidence”. “We think policy is...

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Higher for (even) longer

• Fed speak. Chair Powell endorsed the upswing in rates pricing by noting the lack of further progress on inflation. US yields rise, equities fall.• USD support. The rates outlook is underpinning the USD. AUD touched its lowest level since mid-November with USD trends overpowering China GDP.• Priced in? Markets are now discounting a very ‘hawkish’ Fed interest rate outlook. The lofty USD may need another catalyst to move even higher. Market sentiment has stayed on the defensive as the outlook for ‘higher for longer’ US interest rates continues to sink in. The major European equity markets fell overnight (EuroStoxx50...

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Calm Returns As Geopolitical Shocks Fade

Market reaction to the weekend’s Iranian attack on Israel has been muted. Intentionally or not, Tehran telegraphed its actions well in advance, most of the missiles and drones were downed before reaching military targets, and its diplomats signalled a desire to de-escalate things further, telling the UN “the matter can be deemed concluded”. Israel’s war cabinet authorised retaliatory strikes, but a sternly-worded message from the White House appears to have put reprisals on the back burner for now. Longer-term escalation remains a risk, but investors generally struggle to assign probabilities to more complex, path-dependent outcomes, so the conflict looks likely...

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