Good morning. The European Central Bank will announce its latest policy decision, new meme stocks keep joining the frenzy and tensions remain between the U.K. and the EU. Here’s what’s moving markets.
A decision on whether to maintain a higher pace of emergency asset purchases is investors’ focal point as European Central Bank policy makers are due to meet on Thursday. Government bond yields in the euro area have fallen to their lowest level since April, reducing the need for aggressive stimulus, but the ECB may err on the side of caution given insufficient evidence that the economic rebound from the pandemic is sustainable. The bank boosted the speed of bond-buying earlier this year in response to rising yields that could threaten the recovery.
The meme stock craze has been well and truly revived, with a host of new names now garnering attention among retail traders, running the gamut from medical insurance to wrestling to prisons. The heavily-shorted stocks that the Reddit crowd tends to target, however, are dwindling in number as investors get wise to the gambit. And U.S. regulators have called for a broad-based review of stock trading rules. All of which coincided with results from the original meme stock, GameStop, where it announced it hired executives from Amazon, said it plans to sell shares and added that regulators are looking into the trading of its stock.
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The European Union warned it may impose tariffs and quotas on the U.K. as the bitter Brexit dispute over Northern Ireland rumbles on, with talks between the two sides ending without a breakthrough. That makes it more likely that the U.K. will mount a defense of its position on the matter at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall this week. Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned about rising Covid-19 infections as daily cases continue to creep higher, less than a week before he is due to decide whether to go ahead with plans to further ease restrictions on June 21.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s agenda as the G-7 summit approaches keeps getting busier. Staffs of Biden and other G-7 leaders are putting together a document that outlines a plan for sharing vaccinations with a view to ending the Covid-19 pandemic by December 2020. Biden will also meet the U.K.’s Johnson ahead of the event to commit to resuming travel between the two countries as soon as possible. And separately, U.S. and Chinese commerce ministers have agreed to push forward trade and investment links between the countries in the first call held since the start of Biden’s term.
European and U.S. stock futures are trending slightly higher following a rise in Asian equities and a rally in Treasuries ahead of what will be closely-scrutinized U.S. consumer price data later, particularly after the recent unexpected jump in wages. China’s central bank governor said consumer inflation is set to stay below the government’s official target this year. Oil prices are edging lower on rising U.S. fuel stockpiles and Bitcoin is relatively stable, having extended a rebound through Wednesday’s session.
What We’ve Been Reading
This is what’s caught our eye over the past 24 hours.
And finally, here’s what Cormac Mullen is interested in this morning
Much like in Hollywood, where studios rush out a poor sequel to a popular movie only to see a smaller audience at the box office, the latest surge in meme-stock trading seems to be less intense than before. While a Goldman Sachs index of the most-shorted U.S. stocks has jumped back to just under its January high, its relative strength index — a gauge of momentum — is well below the peak reached that month. The 20-day moving average of call options traded in the U.S. stock market — a decent gauge of speculative demand — is also well below the heights it reached during the meme frenzy at the beginning of the year. And volumes in the Russell 2000 are running at under half of their January peak. That should be a warning sign for a strategy based on momentum, which is fueled by finding fresh buyers to flip a stock to at ever higher prices. As any factor investor will tell you, once you find (and publicize) a profitable edge in a market, it will soon get arbitraged away. The same will likely happen to the meme stock strategy as its sequels generate diminishing box office returns.
Cormac Mullen is a cross-asset reporter and editor for Bloomberg News in Tokyo.
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