Are Markets Decoupling From Reality?
You may have missed it if you were busy stressing over Greece and some small European debt crisis.
Let me just flesh it out. The month of October has been unbelievably bullish for stocks regardless of the mess that Europe still finds itself in and the recession worries everyone keeps talking about (which still is a very real worry).
In the US, the S&P and Nasdaq are both up around 15 percent on the month, the Dow is up over 12 percent, and it's even more nuts if you're looking at the small cap Russell 2000 which is up 20 percent.
October has also been strong for stocks in countries directly or indirectly involved in Europe's woes. Looking at the most active indexes, the German DAX is up over 16 percent, the French CACis up around 13 percent, and the UK FTSE has put on some 12 percent. Decoupling from reality, anyone?
Thursday marks the beginning of a new era, with the European Central Bank set to announce its latest rate decision under the command of new ECB President Mario Draghi.
Draghi takes on his active role the same week that Joerg Asmussen, Germany’s deputy finance minister, replaces ECB board member Jürgen Stark. Not only will the current economic climate, and last week's EU Summit decision to actively try and ward off a deeper euro zone crisis, challenge the ECB members on policy, but the dynamics at the meeting could very well be changed with the entry of the newcomers.
At the last ECB rate decision, rates were left on hold. This week, many analysts are calling on the ECB to ease rates precisely due to the continued recession fears. At a time where companies and countries are deleveraging, what we really need is growth.
This would be one of the main reasons for the ECB to cut. Investec expects the ECB to cut rates by 0.25 percentage points to 1.25 percent. UBS is even more aggressive expecting the ECB to cut rates by 0.50 percentage points to 1 percent, and then leave them on hold for the rest of the year.
No doubt that many of us will be tuning in to watch Draghi's maiden performance at the ECB press conference after the actual announcement.
The risk of Greek contagion is still a focal point this week too - especially after the Italian 10-year yield rose above 6 percent at the end of last week's disappointing Italian bond auction.
Thursday is not only ECB day—it will also be a key supply day as an expected 8.5-10.5 billion euros ($12-$14.9 billion) will come to the market from French and Spanish bond auctions. The French bond auction should be especially interesting given the recent volatility seen in French bonds. Will investors still want to buy?