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Hope for Financial Market Stability: Global Week Ahead

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In the Global Week Ahead, we close out an eventful first quarter for financial markets.

Q1-23 has been rattled by bank turmoil. Some financial market stability will be much hoped for in coming days.

But don't bet on it.


Regional U.S. bank stocks remain near their lowest levels in two years.

Europe weighs fallout from the forced UBS-Credit Suisse large bank tie-up.

And finally, the slate of macro data coming out this week can show us just how much the latest market movements make -- both U.S. and global recessions more likely.

Next are Reuters’ five world market themes, reordered for equity traders—

(1) Q1-23 Ends. What a Quarter It Was!

What a quarter indeed.

January saw the biggest rush into equities for the first month of the year on record as investors loaded up on cheap stocks. With "peak rates" essentially priced in, bond yields at multi-year highs suddenly looked juicy. The threat of inflation looked less severe and growth more robust. Crisis averted!

Fast-forward a few weeks and a slew of crypto-companies have folded, U.S. regional banks stocks have tanked in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank collapse and 167-year old Credit Suisse has imploded — and the write-down of some of its contingent convertible bonds (CoCos) has whipped market volatility into a 2008-style frenzy.

"Peak rates" is coming faster than many expected, not because inflation has been vanquished, but because central banks are wary of fanning the flames of a credit crunch, right as the banking sector wobbles.

(2) Wither the Global ‘Banking Crisis’?

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, a 90% share price drop over two weeks in beleaguered First Republic Bank and a shotgun marriage between Credit Suisse (CS - Free Report) and UBS (UBS - Free Report) to avert a wider crisis have led to this: banks on a wild ride. The turmoil may not be over yet.

SNB chief Thomas Jordan reckons the next two weeks will be vital to securing UBS' Credit Suisse takeover. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said banking stress could trigger a credit crunch with "significant" implications for a slowing U.S. economy.

And even as central banks and governments step in to stem signs of panic, there's a new challenge to grapple with: a social media-driven bank run that can be hard to control once rumor and fear take hold.

As Citigroup (C - Free Report) CEO Jane Fraser puts it, social media is a "complete game-changer" in bank runs.

(3) Lots of Useful U.S. Macro Data Out This Week

U.S. data that will give insight into the health of the consumer and the state of inflation is timely for investors trying to weigh up whether the economy can stave off a downturn.

The banking crisis has prompted fears that lending will slow, grinding the gears of the economy.

March's reading of Consumer Confidence is due on Tuesday. The index unexpectedly fell in February.

On Friday, the February Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) index will offer another look at inflation. It accelerated in January, feeding fears about a more hawkish Federal Reserve.

The Fed raised rates by another quarter point on Wednesday, but recast its outlook from a hawkish preoccupation with inflation to a more cautious stance, given market turmoil that has tightened financial conditions.

(4) Additional Tier One (AT1) Bonds a Legal Issue in Switzerland

Credit Suisse's forced takeover by UBS involved $17 billion of Additional Tier 1 debt — shock absorbers if a bank's capital levels fall below a threshold, to keep it from being wiped out.

Prices of banks' AT1s bonds tumbled following the news. Hong Kong, Singapore, the European Union and Great Britain stepped into to calm the unease.

Potential legal action is also possible after Swiss authorities ruled that holders of Credit Suisse AT1 bonds would get nothing in the deal. Shareholders, who usually rank below debt investors when a company becomes insolvent, will receive $3.23 billion.

Lawyers are assessing whether there is a case against the Swiss authorities. How this plays out in coming days will be watched closely.

The saga has also rocked the $275 billion AT1 bond market, as investors scrutinize debt prospectuses for clauses that could cast doubt over recovery prospects.

(5) CPI Watch in Japan, and Elsewhere, Continues

Incoming Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda will be watching latest Tokyo inflation data closely.

After all, Ueda has the weight of his predecessor's decade of massive stimulus on his shoulders when he takes over in April.

Expectations are high that he will mastermind a delicate unwinding of yield curve controls and negative interest rates during his tenure, but a key question is when.

Ueda is in no rush, but pressure is building.

The release of Tokyo CPI for March on March 31 is likely to show inflation has topped the BOJ's 2% target for a 10th straight month. And wage inflation shows signs of catching up.

But policymakers say the economic recovery remains fragile. And U.S. and European banks’ turmoil show how quickly a crisis can surface, giving Ueda even more reason for caution.

Zacks #1 Rank (STRONG BUY) Stocks

(1) ICON (ICLR - Free Report) :
This is a $207 a share stock. The company offers full-service clinical research. It has a market cap of $17B. I see a Zacks Value score of C, a Zacks Growth score of D and a Zacks Momentum score of C.

(2) ASE Technology (ASX - Free Report) : This is a $7.60 a share stock. The company provides semiconductor manufacturing services in assembly and testing from Taiwan. It has a market cap of $17B too. I see a Zacks Value score of A, a Zacks Growth score of A and a Zacks Momentum score of D.

(3) Tenaris (TS - Free Report) : This is a $28 a share stock. This company contains a set of eight steel pipe and tube companies. They are organized in Luxembourg. It has a market cap of $16.6B. I see a Zacks Value score of B, a Zacks Growth score of C and a Zacks Momentum score of C.

Key Global Macro

On Monday
, the Fed’s Jefferson gives a speech.

On Tuesday, Australia’s retail sales should be up +0.4% m/m in FEB, after going up +1.9% m/m in JAN.

The BoJ’s outgoing Governor Kuroda gives a speech.

The Case-Shiller home price index (HPI) for JAN should be up +3.9% y/y.

On Wednesday, there is a non-monetary policy ECB meeting.

U.S. pending home sales for FEB should be down -29.4% y/y, which is worse than JAN’s -24.1% y/y decline.

On Thursday, the Euro Area’s economic sentiment indicator for MAR should be 99.7. That is the same as FEB’s 99.7.

U.S. Q4 GDP should finish at +2.7%.

U.S. initial jobless claims should remain low at 191K, the same as last week.

On Friday. the Euro Area’s core harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) should be +5.7% y/y in MAR. The prior reading for FEB was +5.6% y/y. The broad HICP should be +7.2% y/y, better than the FEB data of +8.5% y/y.


Here are Zacks Research Director Sheraz Mian’s key Q1-23 earnings season points:

(1) Total S&P500 earnings for 2023 Q1 are expected to be down -9.4% from the same period last year on +1.8% higher revenues. This would follow the -5.4% decline in the preceding period’s earnings (2022 Q4) on +5.8% higher revenues.

(2) Estimates for the period have been coming down over the last few months, with 14 of the 16 Zacks sectors suffering negative revisions since the start of the quarter.

(3) In terms of growth, 2023 Q1 earnings are expected to be below the year-earlier level for 9 of the 16 Zacks sectors, with:

  • Basic Materials (-39.2%)
  • Construction (-32%)
  • Medical (-22.5%)
  • Conglomerates (-23.8%)
  • Autos (-17.8%)
  • Technology (-16.4%), and
  • Consumer Staples (-9.2%) having notable declines

(4) Sectors enjoying positive earnings growth in 2023 Q1 include:

  • Transportation (+55%)
  • Aerospace (+19.4%)
  • Energy (+6.8%)
  • Utilities (+0.4%)
  • Finance (+2.6%)
  • Industrial Products (+0.8%), and
  • Consumer Discretionary (+14.9%)

That’s it for me.


John Blank
Zacks Chief Equity Strategist and Economist

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