“This week: central banks trying to make up their minds,” analysts at Bank of America wrote last week, pointing out that the Bank of England and European Central Bank were struggling to make their intentions clear at recent meetings.
ECB president Christine Lagarde surprised investors earlier this month by not sounding overly concerned about the euro’s recent surge, while the BoE caused analysts to revise their expectations for UK rates by revealing that it was laying the operational groundwork for cutting its key rate below zero.
The pound briefly dropped after the BoE minutes were released on Thursday.
“Just a month ago, governor Andrew Bailey was dismissive of the idea [of negative rates]. So which one is it?” asked analysts at Bank of America.
Investors will be closely watching Mr Bailey’s two scheduled appearances on Tuesday and Thursday in a bid to gain further clues about the BoE’s intentions, while a survey of manufacturing conditions in the UK — out on Wednesday — will provide clues about the strength of the economic recovery, analysts said.
The minutes from the meeting of the BoE’s monetary policy committee also noted that a move to negative rates was contingent on the economic circumstances, leading some economists to conclude that such a move was far from imminent.
Developments in trade talks between the EU and the UK will also be key for the pound’s path, which traders expect to remain volatile in the coming months. Eva Szalay
Will more US companies join the IPO rush?
Last week marked the busiest period for US initial public offerings since Uber’s flotation more than a year ago, as companies rushed to take advantage of the surging equity market and investor demand for technology companies in particular.
Snowflake, which listed on Wednesday, was the biggest ever IPO for a US software company and the largest flotation of the year. The company’s shares more than doubled from the listing price on its trading debut. It was followed by Unity, which provides software for video game developers, and was another of the year’s largest offerings. In all, a dozen companies joined the public markets during the week.
Other big IPOs due later this year could include Airbnb, the short-term rentals company, which announced last month it had filed with the US securities regulator to list. DoorDash, the food delivery company, also submitted its plans in February.
In June, two of the year’s biggest deals saw Royalty Pharma and Warner Music each raise about $2bn in their own listings.
The action has been driven by the resurgence in the US stock market. The S&P 500 benchmark of blue-chips is up about 50 per cent from the lows in March and has turned positive for the year, in the process setting a record high and erasing the losses caused by the pandemic.
“When all of their peers are trading up, that is a strong driver to go public sooner rather than later,” said Matthew Kennedy, senior IPO analyst for Renaissance Capital. Richard Henderson
Has the silver rally come to an end?
Silver has rallied by 50 per cent this year, making the precious metal one of the best performing financial assets, surpassing gold’s record run. Silver is seen as an alternative haven asset to gold and is also set to benefit from rising demand for solar panels, which use the metal.
Yet over the past month investors have started to withdraw money from silver-backed exchange traded funds, raising concerns the rally might be over. Holdings in the iShares Silver Trust have fallen by 3 per cent over the past month to 555m ounces. Silver prices, meanwhile, have kept in a range between $26 and $27.5 an ounce in recent weeks.
Investors are growing doubtful that the Federal Reserve can engineer inflation in the US, and physical demand for silver is yet to meaningfully pick up, according to David Govett, a veteran gold and silver trader. Precious metals are often seen as a protection against inflation.
According to the median forecast of Fed policymakers published last week, core PCE inflation, the Fed’s preferred measure, will remain below 2 per cent until 2023.
“Unless the ETFs get their buying boots on, I would look for gold and silver to move lower,” Mr Govett said.
“Monetary and fiscal policies globally will float investor demand for silver, but the heretofore massive ETF investment is unlikely to be sustained,” said Jim Steel, an analyst at HSBC. “Weak industrial and jewellery demand will weigh on prices.” Henry Sanderson