Generous ECB

<html xmlns=""><head><title>LIVE MARKETS-Generous ECB</title></head><body>

STOXX 600 up 0.9%

Oil, chemicals soar in Europe

Market positive on Powell remarks

U.S. stock futures inch lower

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The European Central Bank turned out to be more generous than expected in setting the new ceiling for remuneration of the euro area government deposits and markets are reacting accordingly.

The central bank announced yesterday that it would pay the short-term euro rate (€STR) minus 20 basis points, taking effect on 1 May 2023.

“Under the previous arrangement, the ceiling was supposed to go back to 0% on the same date,” Citi analysts noted.

Sovereign deposits remuneration “is at the generous side of the range of outcomes we had sketched,” says Christopher Rieger, head of rates and credit research at Commerzbank.

“This is taking the edge out of the latest re-emergence of scarcity fears that had become more visible in higher demand for longer-dated BuBills since the start of this week,” he adds.

In September, the ECB decided to temporarily set the ceiling for the remuneration of government deposits held with the Eurosystem at the euro short-term rate (ESTR) from previous 0%.

Analysts argued that a zero per cent remuneration boosted demand for top-rated government bonds applying downward pressure on their yields.

(Stefano Rebaudo)



All sectors are ticking higher in Europe today, as the STOXX 600 .STOXX soars to its highest since April 2022, boosted by the oil and gas sector .SXEP, which is up 1.5% after another set of bumper results from France's Total TTEF.PA and Norway's Equinor EQNR.OL.

The chemicals sector is getting a helping hand from British industrial gas company Linde LIN and Dutch paints and coatings company Akzo Nobel AKZO.AS. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's speech is still permeating the wider market with a positive mood.

BP .BP.L is providing a boost to the index on a net weighted points basis, with shares rising 3.2% to their highest since August 2019 after the oil major reported record profits for 2022 on Tuesday.

Finnish refiner Neste NESTE.HE is top riser, up 8.9% after the company posted comparable fourth-quarter core operating results that beat analysts' forecasts.

Not all stocks are enjoying the optimism. Dutch payments processor Adyen's ADYEN.AS shares are at the bottom of the index after missing analysts' expectations, while shares in Handelsbanken SHBa.ST are down 6.3% after the Swedish bank reported in-line profits but higher-than-expected costs.

(Lucy Raitano)



Wall Street must be hoping Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell would speak in public every day. Given a chance to react hawkishly to the bumper January payrolls report, Powell demurred and chose to stay boringly balanced on the rate outlook.

Asked if he regretted using "disinflation" 11 times in his media conference last week, he said no, he would do the same again.

He reiterated the "disinflationary process" was under way, but it would likely take a "significant" period of time and if the data kept coming in stronger than expected, the Fed would have to do more on rates.

Hardly earth shattering stuff, but for markets these days if Powell is not all-out in-your-face hawkish, then he's dovish. There's no middle ground. Wall Street duly rallied while Treasury yields and the dollar have eased a little, with futures priced for just two more hikes to 5.0-5.25%.

Meanwhile, the yen has had a good 24 hours which some put down to yesterday's report of strong wages figures, a sea-change for a market that has spent years ignoring Japanese data because nothing ever happened in them.

Nominal total cash earnings grew 4.8% y/y last quarter, the fastest since January 1997, thanks to an outsized 7.6% jump in December bonuses.

Faster pay growth in the spring labour talks is seen as an essential condition for the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to scale back its massive monetary stimulus.

Calls by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for companies to raise wages seem to actually have had some effect with some big names pledging large rises recently.

On Tuesday, video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.T said it plans to lift workers' base pay by 10% even as it cut its profit outlook. It was rewarded today by the market knocking its shares down 8%.

Key developments that could influence markets on Wednesday:

- Fed's Williams, Cook, Bostic, Barr, Kashkari and Waller all speak, with Waller and Williams likely to carry the most weight with markets

- Earnings from Uber and Walt Disney, which will be the first result with Iger back in charge

(Wayne Cole)



European stocks are set for a solid start with March futures contracts STXEc1 up 0.8%, wiping out Tuesday's losses and then some.

Some blockbuster earnings are rolling in from France. Oil major TotalEnergies TTEF.PA posted a record adjusted net profit continuing a spate of positive earnings for the sector, which also includes the latest from Norway's Equinor EQNR.OL.

Meanwhile France's third biggest bank Societe Generale SOGN.PA posted higher-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter, and another bank - Italian state-owned Monte dei Paschi di Siena BMPS.MI - has also outdone expectations with its larger-than-expected quarterly profit.

In a speech on Tuesday, Fed chair Jerome Powell, while acknowledging that interest rates may need to move higher, still struck a less hawkish tone than had been feared which sent stocks higher on Wall Street overnight and on Wednesday in Asia and weighed on the dollar.

A warning signal came from the UK's largest housebuilder Barratt Developments Plc BDEV.L, after it flagged persisting market uncertainty as high mortgage rates weigh on demand and a sharp fall in house prices dent margins.

(Lucy Raitano)



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