Brian Jacobsen provides perspective on the Russia-Ukraine war and other key topics of the current week—plus, his thoughts about what the week ahead may hold. Here’s his report for the week of April 16–22, 2022.

The week that was

Russia-Ukraine update:

  • Actions:
    • Russia’s warship Moskva sank after Ukraine’s military hit it with two cruise missiles, according to U.S. officials. The warship was known as the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
    • Russian troops killed six people in the city of Lviv, in western Ukraine, by firing missiles at the city.
    • Ukraine’s President Zelensky said the battle for Donbas has begun. Russia has captured most of Mariupol, though there are approximately 2,000 Ukrainian troops sheltering in a steel plant there.
    • Russia tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile. Defense analysts believe the missile is still years away from being usable.
  • Sanctions:
    • The U.S. Treasury imposed more sanctions on Russia. The new sanctions are to help prevent evasion of prior sanctions.
    • Due to sanctions, Russia is moving close to default on two of its bonds.
  • Negotiations:
    • Ukraine said it will not consider giving up any of its territory in negotiations.
    • At a G-20 finance ministers meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other members walked out when Russia’s finance chief began to speak.
  • Earnings reporting season has begun! Coming into this season, at the index level, companies within the S&P 500 Index were projected to have an average earnings-per-share increase of 4.45% year over year, according to FactSet. Sales were projected to rise 10.81% year over year. With 17% of companies reporting, earnings have grown at a 6.38% year-over-year rate while sales have grown at an 11.07% pace.

Economics:

  • The Peoples Bank of China cut its reserve requirement ratio by 25 basis points (bps; 100 bps equal 1.00%) to free up bank capacity to make more loans.
  • China’s first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.8% year over year, beating expectations. Industrial production in March increased 5% year over year, and retail sales fell 0.4% year over year.
  • The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) downgraded their growth outlooks for 2022 in light of high inflation and the war in Ukraine. The World Bank cut its forecast from 4.1% to 3.2%. The IMF’s forecast was revised down to 3.6% from 4.4%.
  • The Bank of Japan stepped in and announced it will purchase an unlimited quantity of Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs) as part of its yield-curve control program. It is trying to keep the 10-year JGB’s yield from going above 25 bps. It will be interesting to see if it makes any changes to this program on Wednesday, April 27, when it has its next policy meeting. The yen has been weakening, which can be good for export competitiveness, but it drives up the cost of imports.
  • The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, a collection of qualitative economic information from around the country, said the economy expanded at a moderate pace from mid-February through early April, with accelerating consumer spending as COVID-19 cases declined. The report noted that there are still supply chain backlogs, tight labor markets, and elevated input prices for businesses.
  • Federal Reserve Chair Powell spoke at an International Monetary Fund conference. He said there is a lot of merit in “front-end loading” rate hikes and that a 50 bps hike is on the table for the May meeting.

Politics:

  • President Biden announced lease sales for oil and gas drilling on federal land.
  • A federal judge in Florida overturned the Biden administration’s mask mandate on public transportation, including the mandate that passengers must wear masks while on planes. Last week, the CDC announced it would extend the mandate by two weeks to May 3.
  • China’s government said community spread of COVID-19 has been curbed in Shanghai.

The week to come

  • In the U.S., an interesting data release will be the first-quarter GDP report on Thursday. After a 6.9% annualized growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2021, economists are looking for a slowdown to a 1.7% annualized pace for the first quarter of 2022. On Tuesday, we get new-home sales data for March and durable goods orders for March.
  • On Wednesday, the Bank of Japan has a policy announcement. Then on Friday, we get the first-quarter GDP data releases for the euro area and its member countries.
  • On April 24, France holds its presidential election.

Thanks for reading, stay informed!

 

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