February 19, 2018 / 8:57 AM / 4 months ago

Daily Briefing: Spain's de Guindos has ECB job in sights

LONDON (Reuters) - Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos is tipped to get the nod from his euro zone peers to be their candidate for vice-president of the European Central Bank today, one of several top appointments to be made over the coming year culminating with the top ECB job itself.

Spain's Economy Minister Luis de Guindos speaks during a plenary session at Spain's Parliament in Madrid, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

If confirmed, the nomination would be recognition of de Guindos’ efforts in boosting Spanish growth since its economy was rocked by the financial crisis and of the fact that Spaniards are currently absent from any of the top EU positions. Euro zone ministers will also review Greece’s progress as its moves closer to the end of its bailout in August.

The European Central Bank this morning announced it was stopping all payments by Latvian lender ABLV Bank as its liquidity position has deteriorated after accusations by U.S. authorities that it allowed the breaching of sanctions against North Korea. The bank says the U.S. accusations are based on unfounded and misleading information.

Separately, Latvia's central bank Governor Ilmars Rimsevics is under pressure to step down after it was confirmed at the weekend he was under investigation by the country's anti-corruption agency on undisclosed matters. More details should emerge after an emergency meeting of the Latvian government at 0800 GMT.

MARKETS

A dancer wearing a Chinese 'Big Head Buddha' costume performs with a dragon to mark the first trading day at the brand new Philippine Stock Exchange complex in Bonifacio Global city, the capital's newest financial district in Taguig city, Manila, Philippines, February 19, 2018. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The gradual stabilisation of world markets continues, even if holidays in China and the United States on Monday may mean today is a false test. Wall St clung to positive territory by the close on Friday, capping its best single week in five years as the Vix volatility gauge subsided below 20 percent. The calmer mood persisted early on Monday through Asia markets that were open.

Although Shanghai and HK were closed for the Lunar new year break, Japan’s Nikkei jumped almost 2 percent, helped by a decent recovery of the dollar against the yen as well as more broadly against the euro and other currencies. South Korea’s Kospi index was up almost 1 percent. European stock futures are also pointing higher, with Germany’s DAX marked up about 0.5 percent. A return of fund inflows and a big upward revisions to earnings expectations last week helped the rebound in Europe but the STOXX 600 needs to gain another 6 percent to get back to the 2-1/2 year peak hit last month.

With the MSCI index of world stocks having regained more than half the peak-to-trough loss since late January, much of the focus of the week ahead will be assessing the root causes of the volatility shock. The main culprit was rising bond yields, where 10-year Treasury yields continued to climb to four-year highs of 2.9440 percent last Thursday despite a broad recovery in equity markets.

Bond investors, who have been on edge over signs of growing inflation, rising Federal spending and budget deficits and a possibly more aggressive Federal Reserve, will have their work cut out for them as the U.S. government seeks to sell $258 billion worth of debt this coming week. The release of flash February business surveys from around the world on Wednesday is another big moment, with the European corporate earnings season still in full swing. The big UK banks are among the highlights this week. Brent crude prices firmed above $65, meantime.

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