In its monthly bulletin, the ECB welcomed the fiscal compact EU leaders agreed upon last Friday, but criticized that the new rules still leave considerable room for discretion when exercising surveillance and enforcing compliance “While these governance reforms are an important step forward, the legislative package adopted falls short of the quantum leap that the ECB’s governing council advocated.” The ECB points amongst others to the complexity compared to the Stability and Growth Pact, insufficient automaticity for the enforcement of the rules and too much leeway for financial sanctions. By March 2012, EU leaders are expected to come with a finalized version of the intergovernmental treaty. The criticism by the ECB of course doesn’t imply that they will be stepping up to be the quantum leap. ECB Draghi made it once more very clear that the SMP programme is neither eternal, nor infinite.
EU President Van Rompuy confirmed yesterday’s rumour that there will be yet again an extra EU-summit, this time on growth, probably by the end of January or beginning of February.
Today, the Italian Monti government faces a first confidence vote to speed up approval of the €33B austerity package. It will be followed by a similar vote in upper house next week. The technocratic government of (1 1984,32 CZK, -0,13%) Monti is backed by an overwhelming majority in both houses and the votes should pass easily, confirming a decree law that went into effect on Dec 4, but needs parliamentary approval within 60 days.
On Monday, the self-imposed 10-day deadline from EU leaders to confirm beefing up the IMF by bilateral loans expires. It seems more and more that an agreement will be reached. On Wednesday, BuBa Weidmann said Germany was ready to increase its contribution to the IMF from €15B to €45B if other non-euro countries would also up their input. Yesterday we got some good news from that front as Swedish Riksbank Ingves said Sweden was ready to give a SEK 100B loan to the IMF. Similar messages came from Russia, where an aide close to president Medvedev said ahead of an EU-Russia summit that they were committed to contribute at least $10B to the IMF. Other EMU-countries that already showed their willingness areBelgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Dutch FM De Jager said that the Eurogroup may meet on Monday to discuss the issue. A positive outcome might have an impact on riskier markets.
Yesterday, the Spanish treasury concluded this weeks EMU bond supply by tapping three off the run 10-year Obligacions (€2.45B 3.15% Jan2016 & €2.18B 4% Apr2020 & €1.4B 5.5% Apr2021) for a combined amount of €6.03B, way above the maximum of the intended €2.5-3.5B range. The Spanish debt agency saw an opportunity and took it with both hands. Despite the higher amount served, bid covers were still between 1.52 and 2.16. This also is the highest amount of bonds the Spanish debt agency sold this year in an auction. The yields Spain had to pay were lower than those in the secondary market at the moment of the auction and immediately after, the Spanish yields fell further. It was the final Spanish bond auction this year.
Yesterday, most economic data come out stronger than expected, supporting the “risk on” sentiment. First of all, the PMI’s in the euro zone surprised on the upside of expectations. Both manufacturing and services PMI improved in December, while a further worsening in business sentiment was forecasted. For the services sector, it was the second straight increase, providing hope that the worst might be behind us, although uncertainty remains extremely high. CPI inflation for November was confirmed at 3.0% Y/Y, and also core inflation came out line with expectations. In the US, both the Philadelphia Fed and NY Fed index continued their rebound and beat market expectations, boding well for manufacturing activity in the coming months. Production in November nevertheless fell for the first time since April, but this was mainly based in the autos and parts probably due to the flooding in Thailand. Finally also the jobless claims came out the stronger side of expectations, extending their downtrend. Initial jobless claims dropped to 366 000, the lowest level in 3.5 years! There might of course be some distortions due to the end of year holidays, but the trend looks downward, which is a positive for the payrolls.
Today The eco calendar is rather thin with only the CPI inflation data in the US and the trade balance in the euro zone. Several central bankers are scheduled to speak and the Italian lower house will vote on the budget. In the US, CPI inflation is forecasted to have stabilized in November after dropping significantly in October. The consensus is looking for stabilization in the annual rate at 3.5% Y/Y, while on a monthly basis inflation should have risen by 0.1% M/M. We have no reasons to distance ourselves from the consensus. Core CPI is forecasted to have risen by 0.1% M/M, while the annual rate will probably stay unchanged at 1.6% Y/Y.