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Daily Briefing: Discreet Draghi at Jackson Hole
August 25, 2017 / 7:26 AM / in 2 months

Daily Briefing: Discreet Draghi at Jackson Hole

LONDON (Reuters) - The last time European Central Bank President Mario Draghi spoke at the Jackson Hole get-together for the world’s central bankers, in 2014, he laid the foundations for the ECB’s unprecedented easy-money regime.

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi smiles as he arrives for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Germany August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Draghi will return to the Wyoming mountain resort to deliver a speech at 1900 GMT today, but those hoping he will spill the beans on how the ECB will now wind down that scheme are likely to be disappointed.

Sources familiar with the debate among the ECB’s policy-makers have sought to dampen down expectations of any big speech, saying Draghi will instead hold off on the policy discussion until the autumn, as agreed at the last rate-setting meeting in July.

That debate promises to be an interesting one, given that inflation remains stubbornly weaker than the Bank would like, even with the euro zone's solid growth and falling unemployment.

German second-quarter GDP growth has just been confirmed at a healthy 0.6 percent, but the big number today is likely to be its Ifo business sentiment index out at 0800 GMT. Analysts expect it to come in a shade weaker for August but will be on guard for a surprise to the downside, after the smaller ZEW survey this week showed that Germany's diesels emissions scandal - a long-running saga that has rocked the country's massive auto sector - was starting to take its toll on investment morale.

A politically charged blame game has broken out between national Spanish authorities in Madrid and separatist-minded Catalonia over whether the Barcelona truck attack could have been prevented. In particular, police in the northeast Spanish region are being accused by anti-independence media of failing to properly investigate a Moroccan imam suspected of being involved in the radicalisation of the suspects.

There may be some respite from that today and over the weekend with “unity marches” planned in Cambrils, scene of a smaller attack, and Barcelona. Slogan: “We are not afraid”.

MARKETS AT 0655 GMT

Fed Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi speak in Jackson Hole later in the day, and while neither is expected to deliver any radically new policy messages, investors are approaching the meeting with caution, for example buying the dollar against the yen and selling lower-rated euro zone government debt.

Since expectations of fireworks from the keynote speeches are low, the risk is for a big market move if the script changes.

The dollar is up marginally against the yen, with some analysts saying investors have been closing positions before the central banker speeches. The greenback is also up slightly against a basket of major currencies and versus the euro. U.S. Treasury yields rose on Thursday, but one strategist said no one was putting on big positions.

German benchmark 10-year yields are just about flat at 0.38 percent but lower-rated Portuguese debt is underperforming, with yields up 1.4 basis points and close to 2.9 percent. Yields in Portugal and Italy, where domestic politics is back in focus, are heading for their biggest weekly rise in seven weeks.

European shares are expected to open little changed, with any upside limited by caution before Draghi's speech at Jackson Hole, which a trader said prompted redemptions in the region's equity funds of $231 million this week. Futures on main indexes were trading between a gain and a fall of 0.1 percent. The pan-European STOXX 600 index is on track to end the week up around 0.1 percent.

The earnings season in Europe is almost finished and the picture is mixed: 55 percent of companies have beaten expectations and 40 percent have missed them. Growth in the second quarter, however, is expected at 24 percent with 13 percent of companies in the MSCI Europe still having to report results.

Stada is expected to get a boost at the open today after news that activist investor Paul Singer had not tendered his stake to the recent sweetened bid by private equity firms Bain and Cinven that gave them control of the generic drug maker. Its shares were up 3.6 percent in pre-market trade. Still in Germany, Adidas is indicated down 1.4 percent after its CEO damped expectations for the medium term after a record 2017, according to an interview in Friday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Other stock movers: Fiat Chrysler says will always evaluate deal inquiries; Commerzbank out of running for Deutsche Bank Polish assets - sources; Fiat Chrysler, VW in early-stage talks about light-utility vehicle JV -source; Market signals big paper loss for Rome after Monte Paschi's bank bailout; German prosecutors target Steinhoff execs in fraud probe; Fed lifts dividend payment restrictions on Santander's U.S. subsidiary; Small UK companies complain after HSBC accounts frozen; U.S. accuses former Societe Generale bank managers of Libor scheme; Axis Capital hikes offer for UK small-cap insurer Novae

MSCI’s main index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, is up 0.2 percent and Tokyo stocks rose 0.5 percent, helped by the weaker yen versus the dollar.

Oil prices are up as Hurricane Harvey heads for the Gulf of Mexico. Brent crude was last up 44 cents at $52.48 a barrel. Copper is up 0.6 percent on robust Chinese demand and gold is flat at $1,286 an ounce.

Emerging markets stocks a big driver, up over 2 percent for the week, Poland up 4 percent in their biggest weekly rise since late April. Thursday saw their biggest daily rise (2.7 percent) since March.

Editing by Larry King

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