Rate outlook hurts euro bonds, stocks weaker

By Jeremy Gaunt, European Investment Correspondent

LONDON (Reuters) – Expectations of another rise in European Central Bank interest rates by July kept the euro close to recent highs on Monday and pushed euro zone government bond prices lower.

World stocks were weaker, although Wall Street looked set to open higher as its latest corporate earnings loomed.

Although the world economy is fairly robust, there are growing expectations among investors that accompanying higher commodity prices will drive up inflation and prompt central banks to tighten monetary policy sooner.

Oil prices dipped on Monday on hopes of a settlement in Libya, but they remain high and technicals suggested Brent could soon be heading toward $130 a barrel.

The ECB raised its benchmark rate by 25 basis points last week to 1.25 percent, the first hike since 2008, and used language suggesting that another rise is in the pipeline.

U.S. Federal Reserve officials, in the meantime, have been making more hawkish comments, calling into question the future of its asset-buying quantitative easing program.

“This week, perhaps, the focus could be on whether the Federal Reserve actually indicates to the market whether they will be exiting their loose monetary policy, and whether they display any hawkish signals,” said Ong Yi Ling, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

One result of the mood was to send core euro zone debt yields higher, with Bund yields above 3.5 percent from the first time since August 2009.

In the euro zone’s debt crisis, a German magazine reported on Saturday that some euro zone finance ministers had told the ECB they have doubts Greece will meet its fiscal targets and suggested it restructure its debt.

The euro touched its highest against the yen since May 2010 of 123.33 yen on trading platform EBS. It later gave up some of those gains and was last down at 122.52 yen.

It was down nearly 0.2 percent to $1.4457, having hit a 15-month high of $1.4489 on Friday.


On commodity markets, tin hit a record and lead scaled a three-year high on the London Metal Exchange.

Gold jumped to a lifetime high for a fifth session, topping $1,476 an ounce.

World stocks as measured by MSCIMIWD00000PUS> were flat, with emerging markets (.MSCIEF: Quote, Profile, Research) off 0.3 percent.

European stocks fell as caution built before the next round of corporate earnings reports. The FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: Quote, Profile, Research) index of top European shares was down 0.2 percent.

“Investors seem too complacent at the moment, ahead of the earnings season,” said Frederic Buzare, global head of equity management at Dexia Asset Management. “I’m cautious on the short term for stocks.”

(Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee, Blaise Robinson and Anirban Nag; Editing by Patrick Graham)

Rate outlook hurts euro bonds, stocks weaker