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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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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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Trading Ranges Shrink Ahead of US Inflation Data

Price action is slowing and the dollar is holding steady against its counterparts in the foreign exchange markets as investors brace for the biggest US consumer price index print since… well, since the last one. Economists surveyed by the major data providers expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics to report a 0.3-percent rise in both headline and core price measures for the month of March – a result which would indicate that January and February’s hotter-than-expected prints were temporary aberrations in a longer-term cooling process. Some risk has likely been taken off the table: Equity indices and risk-sensitive currencies swooned...

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Dollar Strikes Back

Defying market expectations yet again, the greenback is trampling everything in its path as it heads toward a second week of gains. With global central banks on a synchronous easing trajectory, turbulence in China weighing on currencies across Asia, and US equity markets marching to new highs, rate differentials and global capital flows remain clearly dollar-supportive. Mexico’s peso is retracing some of its earlier losses, but remains weaker after the Banco de Mexico delivered a widely expected rate cut, and said it would take a data-dependent approach to future decisions. Voting by a 4-to-1 margin, policymakers yesterday opted to lower...

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Central Bankers Turn Dovish, Markets Rally

Financial markets are in an ebullient mood after Federal Reserve officials said they still expect to cut rates three times this year, with disinflationary forces expected to resume in coming months. All three major North American equity indices closed at record highs and risk appetites roared back yesterday when Chair Powell avoided pushing back on easier financial conditions, and said recent price readings “haven’t really changed the overall story, which is that of inflation moving down gradually on a sometimes bumpy road toward two percent. I don’t think that story has changed”. Markets tend to focus on the shark closest...

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