Stocks ease in nervous Gaza wait

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Kevin Buckland

A nervous watch has gripped markets as Israel prepares to roll troops into Gaza and worries mount that the conflict with Hamas will spill across borders. Iran in particular has warned of a regional escalation if attacks on Palestinians continue.

Sentiment was fragile in Asia, with Japan’s Nikkei down as much as 2% and other equity benchmarks also in the red, hinting at further declines in Europe after Friday’s 1% selloff in the pan-European STOXX 600.

Brent crude stayed firmly above $90 a barrel on Monday, although it eased from a 1 1/2-week high hit very early in the session.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on the ground in the Middle East and President Joe Biden on the phone to help soothe tensions.

Currencies though were mostly calm, with the eye-catching exception of the Israeli shekel, which slumped to its lowest in more than eight years.

The recent spike in oil prices shows just how interconnected global markets can be, fuelling inflation worries ahead of meetings over the next few weeks of the world’s biggest central banks. Policymakers have already been converging in a chorus of higher rates for longer.

The ECB’s next decision is due on Oct. 26, and there is plenty of room for more hawkish market pricing on interest rates, since investors had become convinced that hikes were done and a first rate cut would be coming by the middle of next year.

ECB speakers are out in force this week, including Bank of Spain Governor Pablo Hernández de Cos on Monday, when the euro zone also releases trade data.

It will be a busy week for BoE rhetoric as well, starting with the central bank’s chief economist, Huw Pill, on Monday. There’s lots of important British data, with house prices later today, jobs and wage figures on Tuesday, and CPI on Wednesday.

Britain’s monetary authority announces policy on Nov. 2, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Story continues

Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech at the Economic Club of New York this Thursday, just before the start of the central bank’s blackout…


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