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Central Banks Offer Crisis-Era Action: Global Week Ahead

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In the Global Week Ahead, the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets.

The week’s gatherings of the top monetary minds come amidst global banking turmoil.

Lender Credit Suisse (CS - Free Report) will likely dominate a Swiss National Bank (SNB) meeting and the Bank of England (BoE) might place its inflation fight on hold.

U.S. regional bank turbulence has left deep scars on the world’s financial markets — with the risk of more to come.

Here are Reuters’ five world market themes, re-ordered for equity traders—

(1) Emergency bank liquidity actions stay a top focus.

For those trading, investing in — and reporting on — financial markets, recent days felt like 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' — the title of the film that dominated the Oscars.

In the space of days, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapsed, sparking turmoil in regional banks, government bond yields slid in a massive dash to safety and shares of Credit Suisse, a systematically important European bank, tanked.

More of the same could be in store for markets unnerved by some of the biggest ructions since the 2008 financial crisis, with investors alert for what could break next under hefty rate hikes.

The response is also key. A $30 billion lifeline for First Republic Bank (FRC) has eased fears, and central banks (the Fed and the SNB) have helped to calm things down. There may be more intervention if turbulence takes over again.

(2) The 2-day FOMC meeting ends on Wednesday, March 22nd.

After its laser focus on trying to curb inflation, the Fed must juggle that with a banking crisis at its two-day meeting ending Wednesday.

A week ago, investors braced for a return to a hefty 50 basis-point rate hike after Chair Jerome Powell said the Fed may have to raise rates to more than expected if data showed a still-hot economy.

The mood changed after the failure of U.S. lender SVB sparked contagion concerns. Traders now price in either a small 25 bps hike or none at all.

February inflation data in line with expectations offered some relief, though the 6% annual rise was still above the 2% target.

(3) Swiss National Bank (SNB) policy actions remain a key focus.

The dust had not settled from the collapse of SVB when a slump in shares and bonds at crisis-hit Credit Suisse intensified fears about a global banking crisis and rocked markets.

The Swiss National Bank — much like the Fed — stepped in quickly to reassure investors, but febrile markets are wary of what lies ahead.

The SNB stopgap has worked for now, but the quest is on for a lasting solution. Some predict Credit Suisse could merge with peer UBS to rebuild Switzerland's reputation as a finance safe haven. Its policy response will be watched globally by others anxious to avoid repeat situations.

Credit Suisse will also take center stage when the SNB meets on Thursday. The bank is expected to lift rates by 25 bps or even 50 bps to tackle inflation.

(4) On March 23rd, the Bank of England (BoE) offers is policies choices to markets.

The Bank of England could be on the verge of wrapping up a 17-month campaign of raising rates to combat inflation.

Traders place a 60% chance the bank will lift rates by a quarter point to 4.50% and a 40% chance they will hold fire on March 23rd.

Inflation remains in double digits, but there are signs that some price pressures are easing.

With warmer weather approaching, natural gas prices, which have dropped by 70% in the last three months, are less of a worry. Labor market pressures — including wage inflation — are starting to soften.

The economy is fragile, borrowing costs are high and workers are dealing with a steep fall in real wages. Money markets show that either way, traders do not expect the BoE to deploy much more firepower.

The question is — has the BoE done enough to put the inflation genie back in its bottle?

(5) The Bank of Japan (BoJ) also steps up to the monetary policy plate.

The banks rout has dragged Japanese government bond yields lower and focused expectations on when the Bank of Japan could further loosen the shackles around long-term bond yields — giving dovish policymakers room to defend their ultra-loose policy stance.

Consumer price data on Thursday could change that picture. Core inflation is running at four-decade highs — twice the central bank's 2% target. The wage outlook has also improved — something policymakers have long pointed to as the missing piece in the inflation puzzle.

In the coming days, Japan's top companies will agree their largest pay increases in a quarter century as they conclude the closely-watched annual wage talks known as “shunto.”
Whether smaller companies, which employ seven out of 10 of workers, can afford to follow their lead, remains to be seen.

Top Zacks #1 Rank (STRONG BUY) Stocks

This week, I can show investors and traders the top #1 Zacks stocks this week, ranked by market cap.

(1) Meta Platforms (META - Free Report) : This is a $205 a share consumer internet company, with a market cap of $531.3B. I see a Zacks Value score of D, a Zacks Growth score of B and a Zacks Momentum score of F.

(2) Novo Nordisk (NVO - Free Report) : This is an $139 a share large-cap pharma company, with a market cap of $314.3B. I see a Zacks Value score of D, a Zacks Growth score of F and a Zacks Momentum score of C.

(3) Salesforce (CRM - Free Report) : This is a $187 a share U.S. computer-software company, with a market cap of $187.3B. I see a Zacks Value score of F, a Zacks Growth score of B and a Zacks Momentum score of B.

Note: Staying long with these biggest, most-favored current large-cap names comes with assuming the share-holding cost of accepting a Zacks Value score of D or F.

You must pay up for quality.

Key Global Macro

The Wednesday afternoon FOMC meeting results are all that matters this week.


On Monday, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) left interest rates unchanged, with the one-year prime rate at 3.65% and the five-year 4.3%.

On Tuesday, U.S. existing home sales for FEB should be 4.17M, after a prior 4.0M print. Yes, that number is going higher, as the rise in mortgage rates back fills.

On Wednesday, a scheduled 2-day FOMC meeting breaks up. We get a policy rate decision, a monetary policy statement, and FOMC economic projections from this one.

On Thursday, a 2-day E.U. leader’s summit begins.

There is also a Swiss National Bank (SNB) monetary policy assessment.

We also get the results from the Bank of England (BoE) monetary policy meeting.

The latest U.S weekly jobless claims come out. They are still low at 192K.

On Friday, U.S. Durable Goods orders come out for FEB. No change (0%) is expected.

The preliminary Japan Jibun Bank manufacturing PMI comes out for MAR. I see a 47.5 consensus, after a 47.7 print last month.


I have written this to my Zacks Large Cap Trader subscribers for a week now.  The base case for the FOMC meeting should be a 25-basis-point policy rate hike to 5.0%.

There is a ‘dual track’ arrangement to this crisis-era monetary policy:

  • The emergency 13(3) actions, taken jointly with the U.S. Treasury, the major banks, and the FDIC target the regional banking crisis, centered out here in California.
  • There is still a core Personal Consumption Expenditure rate of +4.7%. That means the FOMC still has to get to 5.7% to produce a +1.0% real policy rate. That is where they typically stop.

Will typical still be typical, in a crisis-era?

Heedless of my views, this March 22nd crisis-era monetary policy statement’s language, and the updated FOMC rate projections, will telegraph an updated forward outlook.

Any changes to either of those?

Stock and bond traders the world over will surely price it in.

Warm Regards,

John Blank
Zacks Chief Equity Strategist and Economist

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