War, peace, inflation

A look at the day ahead in markets from Sujata Rao. Feb 16 was when Russia was meant to invade Ukraine, according to the White House, but Moscow's signals that it was pulling back some troops massed at Ukraine's borders lifted Wall Street on Tuesday and fuelled a selloff in safe-haven Treasuries and German Bunds.

Market gains are extending into Wednesday -- Japan's Nikkei rose 2.2% and European bourses open higher, yet U.S. equity futures show renewed signs of caution.

There are, of course, other ways of waging war; Ukraine blamed Russia for a series of cyber attacks that hit it on Tuesday. And note, Russia's parliament asked President Putin to recognise two Moscow-backed eastern Ukrainian breakaway regions as independent .

Economic data releases and central banks are also occupying markets. Those hoping for signs of inflation peaking will have been dismayed by the latest UK and U.S. readings. British consumer prices rose at the fastest annual pace in nearly 30 years last month, edging up from December

That comes a day after Tuesday's U.S. data showed core factory gate inflation -- the cost for producers after stripping out food and energy -- posting its biggest gain in a year.

The prospect of front-loaded, aggressive rate hikes has dramatically flattened bond curves, with the gap between two-year and 10-year UK gilt yields a whisker off turning negative -- the so-called inversion that often portends an economic slump.

The U.S. Treasury yield curve steepened back on Tuesday as receding war fears lifted 10-year yields, but a day earlier it was the narrowest since mid-2020. For some, the state of the curve is a sign that central banks have fallen behind in their inflation fight and must act faster with policy tightening to catch up.

So all eyes now on minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last meeting. They could show whether policymakers will lean towards a larger half-point rate rise at its March meeting, or whether they favour moving faster with selling the Fed's bond holdings to tighten financial conditions.

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Wednesday: -China's inflation slows, leaving room for policy easing -ECB's Schnabel, Villeroy eye end of stimulus scheme -NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels for two-day summit -U.S. retail sales/industrial production/inventories -U.S. Treasury 20-year bond auction -Fed minutes from Jan. 25-26 meeting -U.S. earnings: Kraft Heinz, Cisco, AIG, Nvidia, Marathon European earnings: Ahold, Alcom, Clariant, EDP, Standard Chartered, Heineken, Carrefour, Reckit Benckiser

Inflation Link
Treasury yield curve Link

Reporting by Sujata Rao; editing by Karin Strohecker

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