And finally....

Trader Aman Patel on the floor of the NYSE.
Trader Aman Patel on the floor of the NYSE. Photograph: Courtney Crow/AP

Back on Wall Street, there’s a clear split between the fast-growing technology companies, and ‘old economy’ stocks, a day after the Federal Reserve gave markets a jolt.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down 200 points, or 0.6%, at 33,833 points, while the tech-focused Nasdaq has climbed 0.95% or 132 points to 14,172 points.

Apple (+1.3%), Microsoft (+1.3%), Amazon (+2%) and Alphabet/Google (+1.1%) are all higher -- suggesting investors are more relaxed about the long-term prospects for interest rates and growth.

But construction equipment maker Caterpillar (-3.6%), chemicals firm Dow Inc (-3.5%), and oil company Chevron (-1.8%) are all lower -- hit by the slump in commodity prices.

Danni Hewson, AJ Bell financial analyst, says today’s rise in US unemployment claims have reminded investors that the recovery will be bumpy.

Overall London markets were pulled down, not only by lingering concerns about inflation following yesterday’s comments by Fed Chair Jerome Powell but also by a fall in mining stocks. Investors are mulling over China’s announcement that it intends to release some of its metal reserves in a bid to curtail the sharp rise in global metal prices which is having a considerable impact on its manufacturing base.

“Miners also weighed down the S&P 500 which hasn’t had quite the same bounce back as the Nasdaq. While the Dow built on yesterday’s losses, tech stocks have simply soared. Investors seem to have quickly made peace with the prospect of rising rates at some point next year if the intervening recovery continues apace, most betting that the recovery will only fuel consumer demand and offset any downside from hikes.

The fact the unemployment claims took an unexpected bounce won’t have hurt either; recovery won’t be a straight line and rate rises, when they come, will be gradual.”

Edward Moya of OANDA says investors are trying to price in the end of US monetary stimulus in the months ahead...

Despite yesterday’s pivot, the Fed is still at risk of moving too slow. The latest update to their forecasts shows that they have no clue where inflation is going and that has some traders nervous. In three months time, the Fed has bumped up their 2021 inflation forecast from 2.4% to 3.4%. While the argument for transitory inflation is strong, the Fed’s reliance on actual data and not forecasts is raising the risk that they will move too slowly.

US stocks were mixed as big-tech makes a comeback as longer-term Treasury yields plunge, while a commodity selloff is dragging down some of the Dow’s key components (Dow, Chevron, and Caterpillar).

On that note, goodnight! GW

Copper is another prime example of the cooling of the commodities boom:

Copper prices are down 15% in just over a month.

— Joe Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) June 17, 2021

There’s also some interesting action in the bond markets.

The yields (or interest rates) on longer-dated US government bonds are falling today, indicating that investors are more confident that the Federal Reserve will keep inflation in check in the longer term.

The 30-year Treasury yield, for example, is down 13 basis points around 2.08% (yields fall when price rise). If yields are lower, investors are accepting a lower rate of return in the future for holding them, suggesting they expect inflation will be lower.

So, with the yields on short-dated bonds rising -- reflecting the Fed’s dot-plot forecasts of two rate hikes in 2023 - the gap between longer and shorter-dated bond yields is narrowing.

The yield curve, as measured by the gap between 5- and 30-year debt yields, fell to as little as 118 basis points, a level unseen since November, Bloomberg reports.

📉 US 2-year, 10-year treasury yield curve flattens to 126 bps, flattest since February 26

— PiQ (@PriapusIQ) June 17, 2021

📉 US 5-year, 30-year treasury yield curve flattens to 117 bps, flattest since November

— idris (@brez_idris) June 17, 2021

Rolls-Royce, the jet engine maker, has said that all products launched after 2030 will be capable of running with net zero carbon emissions as part of decarbonising plans that rely heavily on replacing fossil fuels with synthetic alternatives that are yet to be approved.

The manufacturer and other aviation companies face a huge challenge to cut their products’ carbon emissions. No existing technology can fly passengers across the world without producing tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Rolls-Royce is instead pinning its hopes on synthetic fuels, which the industry calls “sustainable aviation fuels”, or SAF. Almost identical chemically, but produced from non-oil sources, the fuels could theoretically result in significantly less or even zero new carbon emissions across their lifecycle.

Rolls-Royce plans to gain regulatory approval by 2023 for using synthetic fuels in all engine models currently in production, the company said on Thursday. That would mean two-thirds of existing planes using Rolls-Royce engines could be adapted with minor engineering changes.


Precious metals prices are being hammered harder.

Spot gold is now down 2% today at $1774 per ounce, the lowest since early May, on top of Wednesday’s 2.5% fall.

Silver is down over 4%, at $25.84 per ounce, while palladium has tumbled over 10% to $2,514 per ounce. Platinum has sled over 6%, to $1,050 per ounce, as the strong dollar hits prices.

👀 sadtrombone.exe for metals

— PiQ (@PriapusIQ) June 17, 2021

Pound sinks to $1.39 as dollar keeps rising

The dollar is continuing to climb, sending the pound down nearly a cent today to a near-six week low around $1.39.

But, the pound’s still higher against the euro, which has tumbled to a nine-week low vs the dollar.

John Hardy, Head of FX Strategy at Saxo Bank, says the US Federal Reserve kicked off a tightening cycle last night - surprising the markets.

While the signals from the FOMC meeting last night were in some way mild, the strong market reaction suggests that the market was overinvested in the Fed position that inflation would prove transitory.

That suggests that we could get a larger repositioning that continues to take the US dollar higher for now.

The dollar rally just keeps going, and going, and going....

— Michael Brown (@MrMBrown) June 17, 2021

And on the dot-plots showing Fed officials expect two interest rate rises in 2023, Hardy says:

The clearest outcome was the surprisingly large shift forward in when the median fed forecaster sees the Fed achieving lift-off, with the median now suggesting two hikes by the end of 2023, a shift from March, when the median forecast was still for no lift-off until 2024.

There is some risk of over-interpretation (especially as Fed Chair Powell clearly disdains the dot plot), as the dots don’t differentiate where the Board of Governors voted versus regional Fed members, etc. Still, a generally higher set of policy forecasts despite very modest longer term inflation forecast adjustments (more on that below) suggests a general weakening of the Fed’s confidence in is belief that inflation will prove transitory. It’s a signal.

Oil has now slumped 3% today, pulling US crude down to $69.83 per barrel, and Brent crude to $72.05 per barrel.

That takes it down from its highest levels in over two years.

The 'growth' rally that has been in play since start of 2021, peaked in March and is now rolling over. With #dollar bid and positioning very streched in #wti #oil. Short Oil is strong risk-reward play for a minimum re-test of $65 in near term #trading

— Brannigan Barrett (@Trader_Bran) June 17, 2021

The stronger dollar is pulling oil down, despite inventory data showing rising demand for energy.

Sophie Griffiths, market analyst for UK & EMEA at OANDA, says:

Data from the EIA revealed that crude oil stockpiles dropped steeply as refineries boosted operations at the fastest pace since before the pandemic. Inventories declined by 7.4 million barrels in the week to 11 June.

The draw was stronger than expected, also due to a rise in exports, which indicates demand is picking up worldwide.


European stock markets’ winning run is over.

After nine days of gains, the best run since 2017, the Stoxx 600 has closed 0.1% lower tonight, down half a point at 459.33 points.

The index was pulled away from yesterday’s record high by London’s mining giants, and by energy companies, as oil also slid as the dollar rallied.

Utility companies, real estate firms and industrial stocks also weakened, as investors pondered the Fed’s forecast that it would start to raise interest rates in 2023.

FTSE 100 closes lower as commodity selloff hits miners

Stocks in London have closed lower, as the rising dollar and jitters about potential central bank tightening weighed on the market.

The UK’s FTSE 100 index ended 31.5 points lower at 7153 points, down 0.44% from last night’s 15-month closing high.

Mining companies were among the fallers, such as Glencore (-3.6%) and Anglo American (-3.4%), as raw material prices continue to slide today - partly due to the stronger dollar.

Commodity prices are suffering a hefty selloff this AM as the U.S. dollar surges in response to the #FOMC.

Mining stocks are faced with a double whammy as China confirms metal stocks release from state reserves.

— Jerry Robinson ( (@FTMDaily) June 17, 2021

But travel firms finished higher, with BA parent company IAG up 1.8% on reports that the UK could relax ‘amber list’ quarantine rules for fully vaccinated holidaymakers.

Rolls-Royce, whose jet engine servicing business would benefit from more flights, gained 1.75%

Hotel group Whitbread also rallied, up 1.9% after seeing strong demand at UK tourist spots as Britons holiday domestically.

Fintech firm Wise’s direct listing plan buoys City of London

London’s hopes of attracting more technology companies looking to float on the stock market have received a shot in the arm after the fintech firm Wise chose the City for a rare direct listing expected to value the company at up to £9bn.

The international money-wiring company, formerly known as TransferWise, claims to have revolutionised cross-border transactions by cutting out exchange rate markups charged by banks.

The business, created by two Estonians set to become billionaires in the float, plans to deploy an unusual method to come to market, listing shares for public trading on the London Stock Exchange without issuing new equity.

The float, likely to be seen as a victory for the chancellor’s planned stock market changes, will also break new ground for the City of London.

Rishi Sunak last year commissioned the Tory peer Lord Hill to examine ways to lure fast-growing tech companies away from centres such as New York, the traditional stage for their stock market debuts.

The review is widely expected to permit companies with “dual class” share structures to obtain a premium listing on indices such as the FTSE 100.

Dual-class structures are popular with Silicon Valley startups because they allow founders to retain significant control, even after selling chunks of equity to major investors and the public.

Deliveroo’s float was supposed to be the poster child for Sunak’s overhaul earlier this year but flopped on debut, with its share structure cited as off-putting by some investors. The debacle raised concerns that other tech firms could avoid London.

But Wise will also press ahead with a dual-class system, with existing investors including institutional backers Baillie Gifford and Fidelity getting enhanced voting rights for a set period of time.

Here’s the full story:

And here’s the tale of how Wise’s chief executive, Kristo Käärmann and business partner, Taavet Hinrikus, were inspired to create the company to avoid cross-border transfer charges themselves.

Benjamin Ensor, director of research, at fintech consultancy 11:FS says raising capital will help Wise grow faster into adjacent markets.

It could also help the company build relations with customers who choose to invest (they’ll get perks including Wise “swag” and trips to company conferences).

Ensor adds:

“Being listed and having shareholders was the last bastion for big banks as a defence against the fintechs disrupting them… now what?”

Billionaire hedge fund investor David Tepper has told CNBC that Federal Reserve did a good job yesterday, showing that policymakers are not asleep at the wheel.

Here’s the details:

The Appaloosa chief, known for bold calls and strong returns, told CNBC’s Scott Wapner on Thursday that despite the Fed’s plan to move up its interest rate hike timetable, the stock market remains alright.

“I think the stock market is still fine for now,” Tepper told Wapner.

Billionaire investor David Tepper says 'the stock market is still fine' after Fed announcements

— CNBC International (@CNBCi) June 17, 2021

Lumber prices continue to sink back from their recent record highs:


— IGSquawk (@IGSquawk) June 17, 2021

Lumber futures, and cash prices, have both dropped in the last couple of weeks, after surging dramatically earlier this year as demand outstripped supply.

Lumber’s return to earth rather backs up Fed chair Jerome Powell’s point that some of the post-lockdown inflation will be temporary, and fade.

The jump in lumber prices hit homebuilder confidence, pushing up construction costs... which may have encouraged some people to delay projects.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets points out that other commodity prices are also cooling.

Lumber prices have also continued their recent falls adding weight to the idea that the recent sharp moves higher in broader commodity prices is transitory.

Corn, soybeans and wheat are also seeing losses as well as they continue their retreat from their May peaks.

Factory activity growth in the Philadelphia region has slowed after surging earlier this year, as firms grabble with rising prices.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank’s business activity index fell to 30.7 from 31.5 in May. That’s the second monthly fall in a row, but a level that still shows rapid expansion (anything over zero = growth).

Firms reported a slowdown in new orders, but shipments and employment continued to grow.

But firms were also hit by rising costs - with the price paid index increasing for the second consecutive month to 80.7 from 76.8, its highest reading since June 1979.

#Manufacturing continues to grow at a healthy pace this month in the #Philly Fed district. #Shipments, #neworders and #employment all reflect strong expansion. But #price pressures are strong, with #input #costs rising and more firms passing higher prices onto customers.

— Oren Klachkin (@OrenKlachkin) June 17, 2021

Philly Fed: Manufacturing activity continued to expand strongly in June despite slowing slightly. The composite index declined from 31.5 in May to 30.7 in June, with orders, inventories and the average workweek decelerating. At the same time, shipments and hiring strengthened.

— Chad Moutray (@chadmoutray) June 17, 2021

The Philly Fed and New York Fed are both seeing the manufacturing sectors raising prices at the fastest rate in years - since the survey began 20Y ago in the case of NY - and 1980 in the case of the Philadelphia Fed region. Pricing power has returned.

— James Knightley (@Knightleyeco) June 17, 2021

On Wall Street, stocks have gingerly after yesterday’s jolt from the Fed.

  • Dow Jones industrial average: down 108 points or 0.3% at 33,925 points
  • S&P 500: flat at 4,223 points
  • Nasdaq: up 48 points or 0.35% at 14,087 points

On the Dow, cloud CRM firm (+0.8%), financial services firm Visa (+0.5%), chipmaker Intel (+0.5%), tech giant Apple (+0.5%), and consumer goods maker Procter & Gamble (+0.35%) are leading the risers.

But construction equipment maker Caterpillar (-1.85%), chemicals firm Dow Inc (-1.8%), footwear and clothing group Nike (-1.2%) and investment banks Goldman Sachs (-1%) and JP Morgan (-0.9%) are the top fallers.

One week’s increase in jobless claims isn’t a reason to panic, points out economist AnnElizabeth Konkel of jobs site

While regular initial claims (nsa) did tick up this week, don't freak out yet. It's one 👏🏻 week 👏🏻 of 👏🏻 data. Regular initial claims are broadly trending downward when looking at the longer time series.

— AnnElizabeth Konkel (@AE_Konkel) June 17, 2021

She also points out that the number of people on unemployment support for at least a fortnight has dropped....

...but the number receiving emergency help because they’ve exhausted other benefits is still ‘stubbornly high’ (although some states are now opting out of these programs).

Regular continuing claims (nsa) are down, but we also want to look at PEUC, which is one metric of long-term joblessness.

— AnnElizabeth Konkel (@AE_Konkel) June 17, 2021

PEUC is still stubbornly high. And while it is going to drop in coming weeks, that's because many states will be opting out of the program. PEUC and PUA initial claims are going to be very tricky to interpret in the coming weeks.

— AnnElizabeth Konkel (@AE_Konkel) June 17, 2021

A question on my mind right now is how states opting out of federal programs will impact filing behavior. I don't have a good answer. Will a claimant file a PUA initial claim if they know their state is ending the program in a week?

— AnnElizabeth Konkel (@AE_Konkel) June 17, 2021


US jobless claims post an unexpected increase after falling for weeks. Last week's increase to 412k from 375k lifts new filings for unemployment benefits to 1mo high. Noise? Probably, but that won't be known until next week's update:

— James Picerno (@jpicerno) June 17, 2021

Here’s more details and snap reaction to the rise in US jobless claims last week:

#Unemployment claims reverse course after falling for several weeks, initial claims +37K to 412K and continuing claims were also up. #California responsible for a lot of the increase with initial claims +15K and continuing +63K. #DOW -114

— Jason Brooks (@brookskcbsradio) June 17, 2021

Initial claims rise to 412k from 375k previously. The increase supports the notion that the move back to full employment is not a one way street & full of turns & twists. What’s normal? Prior to the pandemic claims ranged between 200-230K. Long way to go till normalization.

— Joseph Brusuelas (@joebrusuelas) June 17, 2021

Initial jobless claims creep up to 412k, breaking a hot streak of pandemic lows. Likely a blip—the trend has been moving in the right direction for months and should continue that way as the economy recovers.

— Steven Rattner (@SteveRattner) June 17, 2021

US jobless claims rise to 412k

The number of Americans filing fresh claims for jobless support rose last week, for the first time since April.

A total of 412,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance were filed last week, dashing expectations of another fall to around 359k.

That’s an increase of 37,000 from the previous week’s 375,000 (the lowest since the start of the pandemic), following a six-week run of falling jobless claims.

It highlights that the economic damage of the pandemic isn’t fully fixed, and that the US labor market is not yet back to its pre-Covid levels (when initial claims were in the low 200,000s per week).


*U.S. JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE BY 412,000; EST. 359,000

— (@Investingcom) June 17, 2021

BREAKING: Initial jobless claims jump up to 412k, an increase of 37k from last week's number. Initial UI claims had been trending down since late April, according to @USDOL data.

— Emily Pandise (@emilypandise) June 17, 2021

If you ignore seasonal adjustments, there were 402,352 initial claims, a rise of 37,174 week-on-week.


European stock markets are still lower today, with the FTSE 100 index now off 45 points or 0.6% at 7140.

Although travel stocks are still higher and banks are holding their gains, mining companies, utilities, consumer cyclicals and industrial stocks are all losing ground.

Full story: Scotch whisky makers toast five-year suspension of US tariffs

Whisky makers are raising a glass after the UK and US agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs on goods including Scottish malts for five years, in the de-escalation of a transatlantic trade dispute stretching back almost two decades.

Liz Truss, the UK international trade secretary, said a “historic deal” had been reached with Washington to ensure tariffs, which affected UK exports to the US worth £550m, remain suspended.

It comes after the Biden administration agreed a similar settlement with the EU on Tuesday, as governments on both sides of the Atlantic take greater steps to resolve tensions over subsidies for the aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.

The 17-year dispute, the longest-running in the history of the World Trade Organization, had led to damaging tit-for-tat tariffs levied on products on both sides due to disagreements over support for large civil aircraft production.

British goods that had been targeted by tariffs – border taxes paid by the buyers of goods from another country – had included cashmere, machinery and single malt Scotch whisky.

Nutmeg, the UK digital wealth manager, is being acquired by US banking giant JPMorgan Chase.

As a robo-adviser, Nutmeg builds portfolios of investments based on a customer’s investment style and preferred level of risk.

Nutmeg says it will “form the bedrock” of the JPMorgan Chase’s retail digital wealth management offering internationally, “complementing” Chase’s launch as a digital bank in the UK later this year.

Founded in 2011, Nutmeg has over £3.5bn of assets under management and over 140,000 clients, but has struggled to turn a profit with losses widening to over £21m in 2019.

Pricing hasn’t been disclosed.

A decade after launching in the UK, today we’re excited to announce the next chapter for Nutmeg. We will become wholly owned by @jpmorgan @Chase and form the bedrock of their digital wealth management offering outside the US 👇

— Nutmeg (@thenutmegteam) June 17, 2021

Interesting! JP Morgan buying Nutmeg, a prominent British to robo-advisor with £3.5 billion in assets. Plans to combine it with digital banking services.

— Loren Fox (@lorenfox7) June 17, 2021

More big fintech news from the UK...

JPMorgan has acquired robo-advisor
Nutmeg. (with link that actually works)

Sharing our story below soon too.

— Anna Irrera (@annairrera) June 17, 2021

The Fed sent “shock waves through financial markets” by signalling that rates will likely rise faster than previously expected and that a decision to wind down asset purchases may be approaching, says Marios Hadjikyriacos of XM.

The dot plot of interest rate projections now envisions two rate hikes in 2023, from zero previously, while a large minority of officials see a move by next year already.

The market reaction was fierce as the hawkish message came like a bolt out of the blue, propelling the dollar much higher and demolishing gold prices. Stock markets struggled as well, although the fallout was contained, signalling that equity traders didn’t panic at the first sign that excess liquidity will be drained from the system.

Overall, this was the opening salvo in what is likely to be a long process of policy normalization. Chairman Powell tried to calm some nerves by stressing the Fed won’t rush into anything, but it was clear policymakers want to get the taper ball rolling, fearful of overheating the economy and being forced to slam on the brakes even harder later.

Asset price moves, 17th June 2021
Asset price moves Photograph: XM


A gold bars.

Gold has fallen to its lowest level in over a month, following the Fed meeting.

Spot gold is down 0.7% today to below $1,800 per ounce, the lowest since May 6th, having lost around 2.5% yesterday.

Gold is being hit by the stronger dollar (which is used to price commodities), and the prospect of higher interest rate rises (which make non-yielding assets less attractive).


On the other hand... the pound has hit a 10-week high against the euro.

Sterling traded as high as €1.17 against the single currency, for the first time since 6th April.

The euro has also weakened against the dollar, to a nine-week low. It down 0.5% at $1.193, the lowest since 13th April.

Pound falls further against strong dollar

Sterling has dropped to its lowest level against the US dollar in nearly six weeks.

The pound has lost almost half a cent this morning, adding to last night’s losses against the greenback.

That takes sterling below $1.395 for the first time since May 7th, as markets react to the news that America’s central bank may raise rates earlier than expected.

The pound vs the US dollar
The pound vs the US dollar Photograph: Refinitiv

The Federal Reserve officials’ new forecast of two interest rate rises in 2023 are lifting the dollar, as is the fact that policymakers began “talking about talking about” slowing (or tapering) its asset purchase scheme.

Investec economist Ryan Djajasaputra explains:

Perhaps most notable of the materials released last night was the so-called ‘dot plot’, i.e. individual FOMC participants’ forecasts for the Federal Funds target rate.

Here there was a clear forward shift in expectations, with seven participants now of the view that the first move up in rates would come in 2022, up from four previously. However, the headline change was that the median view was now for two hikes in 2023; the previous projections published in March envisaged no hikes at all through 2023 in the median projections.

The market reaction to this was a sell-off in US Treasuries, the 10-year yield moving up 8bps to 1.58%. However, during the press conference Fed Chair Powell did attempt to temper expectations over tightening, arguing that the forecasts should be treated with a “big grain of salt” given continued risks from the Covid pandemic.

And on tapering, Djajasaputra adds....

The minutes to the last meeting in April revealed that a number of participants argued that discussions over asset purchases should be on the table at “upcoming meetings”.

Whilst there was no mention of tapering in the FOMC statement, Chair Powell did reveal in his press conference that yesterday’s meeting had been one that could be described as the “talking about talking” meeting, but added that the Fed is monitoring economic data and that it had not made any decisions about ending asset purchases.

Norway's 'likely' September rate rise: reaction

If Norway follows through on today’s forecast of a September rate rise, it would be another milestone in the economic recovery from the pandemic.

The Financial Times says:

Norway’s central bank is likely to raise interest rates in September, it said on Thursday, a move which would make it the first large western nation to increase the official cost of borrowing after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Norges Bank held its benchmark interest rate at zero per cent on Thursday, but governor Oystein Olsen said “the policy rate will most likely be raised in September” and hinted that a second increase was set for December.

The announcement came a day after the US Federal Reserve signalled that its first rate rises would come in 2023; some economists expect other central banks will only begin to tighten policy after that. Canada’s central bank began to scale back its monthly bond-buying in April, making it the first leading central bank to begin to reduce pandemic-related stimulus measures.

Norway’s central bank sets out plan to start raising rates in September via @financialtimes @rmilneNordic

— Anne-Sylvaine Chassany (@ChassNews) June 17, 2021

Bloomberg says Norway is sending a hawkish signal, amid signs the richest Nordic economy is recovering faster than its peers.

Norway’s central bank is preparing for a series of quarterly interest-rate increases after the summer, in a move that puts it ahead of most of the rich world in unwinding the crisis policies triggered by the pandemic.

Norges Bank will “most likely” raise rates in September, Governor Oystein Olsen said in a statement on Thursday. At a press conference later in the morning, he suggested the bank will deliver 25 basis-point hikes each quarter over the coming year

Reuters also reports that Norges Bank’s governor has flagged the possibility of several interest rate rises in the coming quarters:

Norway’s central bank could hike its key policy interest rate twice in the second half of this year and also twice during the first half of 2022, central bank Governor Oeystein Olsen told a news conference.

Norges Bank kept rates on hold at a record low 0.0% on Thursday and said a first hike is likely to come in September.

Dane Cekov, macro economist at Nordea Markets, tweets:

#NorgesBank clearly signalled a first rate hike in September today. Second in December. Norwegian economy normalising quickly, reasonable for rates to be normalised also.@DN @Finansavisen @E24#NorgesBank #Norway #NOK

— Dane Cekov (@DaneCekov) June 17, 2021

Iceland has already taken the plunge, raising its key interest rate back in May.

Car sales across the European Union have risen, but remain weaker than before the pandemic.

In May 2021, passenger car registrations in the European Union rose by 53.4% compared to last year to 891,665 units, industry body ACEA reports.

Although a recovery, it’s still below the 1.2 million cars that were sold in May 2019.

Of the four largest markets, Spain posted the biggest annual increase (+177.8%), with France (+46.4%), Italy (+43.0%) and Germany (+37.2%) all seeing higher sales compared with 2020.

🇪🇺 #EU May Car Registrations Rise 53.4% Y/y to 891,665 units - European Automobile Manufacturers Association
*Nevertheless, last month’s result is still far below the 1.2 million cars that were sold in May 2019.

— Christophe Barraud🛢 (@C_Barraud) June 17, 2021

New Passenger Car Registration, EU countries - 2021M05 (YoY % change)

— Nick (@MacroTragedy) June 17, 2021

(typo alert in previous post: These are May’s eurozone inflation numbers, of course, not March as I mistyped once - now fixed).

Energy prices lift eurozone inflation to 2% in May

Inflation across the eurozone was slightly above the European Central Bank’s target last month, new data confirms.

Eurozone consumer prices rose by 2% year-on-year in May, Eurostat reports, up from 1.6% in April and just 0.1% in May 2020.

That matches the initial ‘flash’ reading. The ECB’s inflation target is just below 2%.

Energy prices were partly responsible, rising by 13.1% year-on-year (having slumped early in the pandemic). Service sector prices rose 1.1% over the year.

Euro area annual #inflation up to 2.0% in May

— EU_Eurostat (@EU_Eurostat) June 17, 2021

Eurozone CPI rises to +2.0% YoY from previous +1.6% in May. Inflation is now above the "below, but close to, 2%" target by the ECB, hinting a possible change in the central bank's forward guidance@graemewearden

— BP PRIME UK (@bpprimeuk) June 17, 2021

Core inflation (stripping out energy, food, alcohol and tobacco) rose by around 1%.

🇪🇺 Euro area core inflation revised from 0.94% to 0.95% in May. Nothing to see here but the big picture.

— Frederik Ducrozet (@fwred) June 17, 2021

Core inflation at a whopping 1%. Such inflation. Much price pressure. Wow.

— Tomas Hirst (@tomashirstecon) June 17, 2021

UK inflation rose by 2.1% year-on-year in March, while US consumer price inflation hit a 13-year high of 5%.


UK and US agree truce in Airbus-Boeing trade dispute

London and Washington have agreed a truce over the long-running dispute over Airbus and Boeing subsidies.

The two sides have agreed a new cooperative framework for Large Civil Aircraft, following a similar deal between the US and EU earlier this week, over state subsidies given to the European and US aerospace rivals.

Under today’s plan, the UK and US will work together to overcome any disagreements in the sector and counter unfair trade practices. They’ve also agreed not impose tariffs related to this dispute for five years.

Bloomberg explains:

Products such as Scotch whisky, biscuits and clotted cream had been hit by additional duties of 25% because of the spat, and the agreement between the U.S. and Britain suspends the tariffs until 2026 while talks take place, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s office said in a statement on Thursday.

NEW: 🇬🇧🇺🇸We’ve secured an historic deal with the US on the long-running Airbus-Boeing disputes today
This will support jobs across 🇬🇧 and is great news for Scotch whisky and other exports including aerospace who will no longer face punitive tariffs 👇

— Liz Truss (@trussliz) June 17, 2021

BREAKING: The UK and the US have reached a deal on the long-standing Airbus Boeing disputes, ensuring key UK businesses are not subject to punitive tariffs.

This means greater export opportunities for iconic UK products like Scotch, cashmere and more.

— Department for International Trade (@tradegovuk) June 17, 2021

Last December, the UK dropped its side of the tariffs (which were part of an EU-wide move), to improve relations with the incoming Biden administration.

The US later agreed, in March, to suspend retaliatory 25% US tariffs on UK exports including scotch whisky, cashmere, pork products and cheese.

Earlier this week, the US and EU also agreed a five-year ceasefire in the long-running US-EU trade war over subsidies to aircraft makers, during Joe Biden’s visit to Brussels.

My colleague Daniel Boffey explained:

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, described the announcement of a suspension of tariffs between the EU and the US as a “breakthrough”.

“This really opens a new chapter in our relationship because we move from litigation to cooperation on aircraft – after 17 years of dispute,” she said.

The tariffs applied by both sides had been temporarily suspended since 11 March. The new agreement will officially go into effect on 11 July.

About $11.5bn (£8.2bn) of tariffs had been applied on goods ranging from EU wine to US tobacco and spirits over the issue of state subsidies for aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. The row had become the longest running dispute in the history of the World Trade Organization. Both sides said the disagreement had been a serious drain on economic growth.

Premier Inn owner Whitbread sees bookings surge at UK tourist hotspots

The Premier Inn at Bagshot, Surrey.

The owner of Premier Inn hotels has reported strong demand at UK tourist spots as Britons holiday domestically, but hotels at airports and in central London continue to struggle.

Whitbread, which also owns restaurant brands including Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, has suffered a torrid year of enforced closures, but said on Thursday that it had seen “encouraging trends” since 17 May, when Covid rules in England were eased to allow hotels to reopen.

UK hotel sales were 73% of their pre-pandemic level between reopening and 14 June as domestic tourism boomed after months of lockdown. Holiday locations with Premier Inn hotels include Skegness, Scarborough, Brighton, Cornwall, south Wales, the Lake District and the Highlands.

That gave glimmers of hope after what the chain had previously described as “one of the most challenging years” in its 279-year history. The company lost £1bn in the year to the end of February. It announced up to 6,000 redundancies in September.

Whitbread said:

“We expect leisure demand in coastal and other tourist locations to remain very strong throughout the summer, while the full recovery of leisure demand is dependent on the final release of lockdown, and the return of unrestricted events.”

Decent update from Whitbread. As suspected, coastal locations seeing strong demand as people rush to book up their UK summer holidays. London and airport locations a bit patchy. Shares up 3% today, +12.7% year to date #WTB

— Dan Coatsworth (@Dan_Coatsworth) June 17, 2021

Whitbread’s shares are up over 3%, near the top on the FTSE 100.

UK cryptoasset ownership has risen

Representations of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

More people in the UK own crypto assets, according to new data from the Financial Conduct Authority.

The UK’s financial regulator estimates that 2.3 million adults now hold crypto assets, compared with 1.9m last year. Awareness has risen too, with 78% now having heard of them - up from 73% a year ago.

The research also suggests that more people are seeing crypto (such as bitcoin or ether) as an investment.

It also found:

  • The median holding has risen from £260 to £300.
  • The profile of crypto users is broadly unchanged from what we outlined in 2020 – largely male, over 35, and at AB social grade.

The FCA says:

The consumer research shows that as holding cryptoassets has become more common attitudes to them have changed. 38% of crypto users regard them as a gamble (down from 47% last year), while increasing numbers see them as either a complement or alternative to mainstream investments.

By contrast, the level of overall understanding of cryptocurrencies is declining, suggesting that some people who have heard of crypto may not fully understand, with only 71% correctly identified the definition of cryptocurrency from a list of statements.

The research was conducted in January - when bitcoin was in the midst of a very strong rally having surged over its previous record high and quadrupled during 2020.

Bitcoin over the last year
Bitcoin over the last year Photograph: Refinitiv

Sheldon Mills, the FCA’s Executive Director for Consumers and Competition, also warns that crypto assets are largely unregulated in the UK. People need to be aware that they’re not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or the Financial Ombudsman Service, he says.

Mills adds:

If consumers invest in these types of products, they should be prepared to lose all their money.

Our new research finds an increase in ownership but a decline in understanding of #cryptoassets

— Financial Conduct Authority (@TheFCA) June 17, 2021


Norway: First rate rise may come in September

Norway’s central bank has left interest rates on hold at record lows, and signaled that the first rate rise since the pandemic is likely to come in September.

At its latest meeting, Norges Bank’s Monetary Policy and Financial Stability Committee decided unanimously to keep the policy rate unchanged at zero percent.

Norges Bank governor Øystein Olsen says:

In the Committee’s current assessment of the outlook and balance of risks, the policy rate will most likely be raised in September.

Norges Bank also says that activity in the Norwegian economy has picked up after the sharp fall in spring 2020, and that a pick-up in vaccinations this spring has helped society to gradually reopen.

Unemployment has fallen but remains high, and economic activity now seems to be rebounding “sharply and somewhat faster than projected earlier”, it adds.

Norges Bank Monetary Policy Report – Norges Bank

— LiveSquawk (@LiveSquawk) June 17, 2021


Travel stocks jump on possibility of double-jabbed tourists skipping amber-list quarantine

A departures terminal at Heathrow Airport in London.
A departures terminal at Heathrow Airport in London. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Shares in travel stocks are rising following reports that Britain is considering easing the restrictions on foreign holidays for people who are fully vaccinated.

The move, if introduced, would mean people who have received both Covid jabs would avoid having to quarantine when returning to England from amber list countries -- which includes many major holiday destinations.

My colleague Aubrey Allegretti explains:

British travellers who have had two Covid vaccines could be allowed quarantine-free entry into England under plans being considered by ministers, the Guardian understands.

As the government grapples with allowing more trips abroad while trying to prevent the importation of new variants, changes are being considered to the traffic light system under which places are graded according to their Covid case and jab rate, determining whether and how people coming from them must isolate.

Only a handful of countries feature on the isolation-free green list, with 50 territories on the red list – meaning arrivals must stay in a quarantine hotel for 14 days.

The amber list, which features the vast majority of countries and to which Portugal was recently added, has prompted much more confusion. Official government advice urges people not to travel to these places, but there are no laws in place to stop people arriving from them and quarantining at home for up to 10 days, or using the test-to-release system to leave the house from day five.

Currently, travellers leaving the UK are allowed to use the NHS app to prove their vaccine status and cut quarantine in some countries.

But in a move that will be seen as further encouraging people to get both jabs, the Guardian has been told that ministers are contemplating loosening travel restrictions for the amber list to let anyone who has had two Covid vaccines escape quarantine. Those who have not been fully inoculated would still face the same restrictions currently in force for amber list countries.

Shares in British Airways parent company IAG are up 3%, with budget airlines easyJet (+3.9%) and Wizz Air (+2.9%) rising. Package holiday firm TUI (+2.6%) are also higher, on anticipation that the move could lift demand for holidays abroad this summer.

As the Telegraph points out:

The change would effectively turn amber countries green for the vaccinated, opening up the possibility of quarantine-free travel to most major holiday destinations in Europe and the US.

But, a decision hasn’t been reached yet, the Telegraph adds:

It is still at an early stage and it is not clear whether it will be worked out in time for the end of the month. There is an awful lot to do. The devil is in the detail,” said a source.


European markets have also opened lower, with Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC both dipping in early trading.

The Europe-wide Stoxx 600 index has slipped by 0.3%, from a record closing high yesterday.

European stock markets, June 17th 2021
European stock markets in early trading Photograph: Refinitiv

FTSE 100 opens lower

Stocks have opened lower in London too, where the FTSE 100 index is down 34 points or 0.5% at 7150 points.

Mining giants are among the fallers, with Glencore, Anglo American and Antofagasta down around 2.2%. Commodity prices have fallen today, as the dollar strengthens.

Also, tighter US monetary policy could slow the global economy, potentially meaning less demand for iron ore, copper, zinc and coal.

Safety equipment maker Halma (-4.1%), precious metal miner Polymetal (-2.4%) and investment group 3i (-2.6%) are also lower.

Banks are rallying, though, with Natwest (+1.6%), Barclays (+1%) Lloyds (+1%) and HSBC (+1%) in the risers column - as a rise in interest rates from record lows would help their profitability.

Yesterday the FTSE 100 had risen to a new pandemic high.

Asia-Pacific markets have dropped after the Fed signalled that monetary policy could tighten faster than expected.

Japan’s Nikkei has fallen by almost 1%, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 and South Korea’s KOSPI are both down around 0.4%.

Introduction: Markets edgy as Fed signals earlier rate hike

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

The markets are edgy this morning after the US Federal Reserve surprised investors by indicating that interest rates will rise from record lows sooner than expected, as the US recovery gather speed.

The Fed’s new projections, released after its latest policy meeting yesterday, indicate at least two rate increases are expected in 2023 - previously a majority of officials had seen them on hold near zero until 2024.

The Fed also began the process of “talking-about-talking-about” how it might end its bond-buying programme, a sign it is moving a little closer towards exiting its crisis-era stimulus measures.

The Federal Reserve Dot Plot

Rising rates may be in our future, but it’s going to be a slow and gradual process. #TransformingEconomy #FederalReserve #TheFed #Powell #economy #EconTwitter #dotplot #money #inflation #transitory #EURUSD #USD #Fed

— John Abruzzi (@CheksNBalances) June 17, 2021

This unexpectedly hawkish move knocked stocks on Wall Street last night, where the S&P 500 finished 0.5% lower.

The prospect of earlier interest rate rises has also driven the dollar up to a two-month high, and pushing the pound below $1.40 for the first time in over five weeks.

US Dollar touching around 8-week highs of 91.445 in asia/pacific market overnight on hawkish US monetary policy

— Chronos Caerus (@ChronosCaerus) June 17, 2021

European markets are heading for a lower open too.

European Opening Calls:#FTSE 7157 -0.39%#DAX 15669 -0.27%#CAC 6636 -0.26%#AEX 732 -0.24%#MIB 25708 -0.23%#IBEX 9177 -0.28%#OMX 2278 -0.37%#STOXX 4138 -0.34%#IGOpeningCall

— IGSquawk (@IGSquawk) June 17, 2021

Equity futures fall gathering momentum, dollar strengthening. #ftse100 #DOW #DAX30

— Ronnie (@Ronniemarkets) June 17, 2021

The Fed also raised its forecasts for growth this year to a blistering 7%, from 6.5% previously, but also expects higher inflation -- 3.4%, up from 2.4% eyed back in March.

As we blogged last night, Fed chair Powell insisted that the central bank wouldn’t change course until it sees “substantial further progress” on employment and inflation.

“Lift-off is well into the future.

“We’re very far from maximum employment, for example, it’s a consideration for the future.”

He also argued that the jump in inflation in the US will be temporary, and expressed confidence about the prospects for growth, and job creation.

The Fed chair also highlighted that the pace of recovery in the labor market has been uneven, saying:

The economic downturn has not fallen equally on all Americans, and those least able to shoulder the burden have been hardest hit.

But... he did also flag that inflation could turn out to be “higher and more persistent” than expected, saying the Fed would use its tools if necessary.

5 minutes into the presser, #Fed Chair #Powell already hat some strong statements:
1) Inflation could turn out to be higher and more persistent that we expect.
2) unemployment assistance may hold back workers wanting to go back to work
3) variants remain a risk #Handelsblatt

— Astrid Doerner (@AstridDoerner) June 16, 2021

And Powell was also clear that the Fed will slow (or taper) its asset purchase stimulus package when the moment is right.

We will do what we can to avoid a market reaction, but ultimately when we achieve our macroeconomic goal we will taper, as appropriate.

Currently, the FOMC is buying $120bn per month of bonds with newly minted money.

Powell also tried to cool interest in the Fed’s rate predictions, or dot-plots, insisting that they weren’t a great forecaster (each official says where they think interest rates will be over the coming years)

Powell bashes the dot plot, saying "the dots are not a great forecaster of future rate moves" and should be taken "with a grain of salt."

— Hannah Lang (@hannahdlang) June 16, 2021

Investors see last night’s meeting, and press conference, as a significant moment.

As Oliver Blackbourn, multi-asset portfolio manager at Janus Henderson Investors, explains:

“This time there was no denying it, the Federal Reserve took its first tentative steps on a more hawkish path. It was instantly felt in markets. While there was no immediate change in policy, the median projections for interest rates saw two hikes leap into the forecast for the end of 2023. Additionally, the talking about tapering finally began. However, Chair Powell suggested a start to tapering still remained a “ways off” as the FOMC continues to look for further progress in the economy.

The Fed’s economic forecasts shifted higher as it recognized that growth this year is going to be even stronger that it had already forecast. The 7% growth rate expected is now above economists’ consensus expectations, although forecasters are more optimistic about growth in 2022 than the US central bank. Elsewhere, the Fed’s forecasts now show a clear bias to above target inflation in the coming years. PCE inflation is forecast to be above target over the next 3 years.

The agenda

  • 7am BST: Eurozone new car registrations for May
  • 9.30am BST: ONS survey on business insights and the impact of the pandemic on the UK economy
  • 10am BST: Eurozone inflation for May (final reading)
  • 1.30pm BST: US weekly jobless figures



Graeme Wearden

The GuardianTramp

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