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Volatility crumples into central bank deluge

Measures of market turbulence are falling ahead of a slew of central bank decisions, suggesting that investors feel confident in rates nearing a peak for the current cycle. Over the coming days, the Federal Reserve is expected to stay on hold and adjust its “dot plot” projections to show rates remaining high for longer. Another hike from the Bank of England is narrowly favoured in fixed-income markets, but growing signs of economic weakness could push the vote and accompanying statement in a more dovish direction. The Bank of Japan is considered unlikely to change its policy settings, with traders instead focusing on Governor Ueda’s verbal gymnastics as he attempts to downplay last week’s (perhaps unintended) hawkishness while working to stabilize the exchange rate. Policymakers in Brazil, Indonesia, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, and Turkey will also deliver decisions, with most turning more cautious in the face of slowing activity levels.

The dollar is retreating in cautious trading against its commodity-linked counterparts, while the euro and pound tread water. Equity futures are positioned for a soft open and Treasury yields are flat as investors keep a wary eye on funding negotiations among House Republicans and strike demands from members of the United Auto Workers union.

Oil prices are still pushing toward the $100 mark after Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the kingdom’s production cuts are “not about  jacking up prices,” arguing that the “jury is still out” on how global demand will evolve in response to higher interest rates and Chinese stimulus efforts. The global benchmark Brent topped the $95 threshold this morning, and barrels of West Texas Intermediate are exchanging hands for more than $92. Inflation breakevens appear largely unresponsive so far, with rates traders expecting the impact on broader prices to fade over time, leaving central bank policy trajectories effectively unmoved.

The Canadian dollar is inching upward ahead of this morning’s August inflation print, with the data expected show headline prices rising 3.8 percent relative to last year, up from 3.3 percent in the prior month on a jump in energy prices. An average of the Bank of Canada’s preferred core measures is seen ticking up to 3.7 percent. Yesterday’s surprisingly strong housing starts number helped bolster confidence in underlying consumer demand, but odds on a hike at the central bank’s October meeting are still holding near the 30-percent mark.

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