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LGT Navigator: Markets and central banks caught between economic recovery and inflation concerns

May 4, 2021

Investors and central banks are currently caught between two conflicting priorities. On the one hand, the improved prospects for the global economy, confirmed by recent economic data and thanks to the successful vaccination efforts to contain the corona pandemic, are giving rise to optimism, while on the other hand, concerns about a sustained rise in inflation, which could force central banks to withdraw their expansionary course, are weighing on sentiment. Federal Reserve Chairman Powell, on the other hand, reiterated the need to maintain an ultra-loose monetary policy.

Markets and central banks caught between economic recovery and inflation concerns

On the US stock exchanges, the indices showed a mixed performance at the beginning of the week and month, after an initially friendly start. The Dow Jones Industrial gained +0.7% to 34'113.23 points by the close of trading, only slightly below the record level of 34'256 points. The S&P 500 closed +0.27% higher at 4'192.66 points and on the technology exchange Nasdaq it went down about -0.5%. Ten-year US government bond yields fell back to around 1.6% in US trading after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stressed that a longer-term expansionary stance of monetary policy is necessary in the face of an uncertain economic recovery. Meanwhile, however, the voices within the central bank leadership seem to be increasing, which speak out for an early scaling back of bond purchases. And investor legend Warren Buffett has also warned of a stronger than previously anticipated rise in inflation.

US industry remains on a solid growth path, but loses some momentum

In the US, growth in the industrial sector slowed in April, but the manufacturing sector nevertheless remains on a solid course. This can be concluded from the latest edition of the monthly survey by the national industry association ISM (Institute for Supply Management). The resulting purchasing managers' index slipped from 64.7 points in March to 60.7. Analysts had expected an increase to 65.0 points. While sub-indices such as new orders and employment weakened, the index for price developments rose sharply.

In contrast, the purchasing managers' index for the US industry published at the same time by the London-based market research institute IHS Markit improved from 59.1 to 60.5 points in April. According to IHS Markit chief economist Chris Williamson, demand in the American industrial sector was the strongest in eleven years last month.

Eurozone industry purchasing managers' index reaches record high

Sentiment among industrial companies in the euro area is at an all-time high, according to the latest survey results from IHS Markit. At 62.9 points, the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for manufacturing reached a record high in April, or the highest level since data collection began in mid-1997. The PMI signals growth above the level of 50 points. The recovery in the European industrial sector is currently strongest in Germany and the Netherlands. But industrial companies in the other countries covered by the survey were also optimistic, according to IHS Markit. However, capacity bottlenecks and supply difficulties threatened to slow down the upturn.



Economic Indicators May 4

MEZ Country Indicator Last
08:00 SZ SECO Consumer Climate Index (Q2) -30.0
10:30 UK IHS Markit PMI Manufacturing (April) 60.7
14:30 US Trade Balance (March) USD -71.1bn
16:00 US Industry Orders (March, m/m) +0.5%

Earnings Calender Mai 4

Country Corporate Period
SZ Adecco Q1 
SZ Geberit Q1
SZ ams Q1
SZ SIG Combibloc Q1
GE Infineon Q1
US Pfizer Q1


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Source: LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd.

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