May 18, 2018 / 3:47 PM / 7 months ago

Take Five: World markets themes for the week ahead

LONDON (Reuters) - Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.

1/READY, STEADY, PMI

The week ahead brings the first or “flash” estimate of manufacturing activity in May from around the world, an early indication of how the global economy is faring after signs of momentum slowing down.

In the euro zone, economists polled by Reuters forecast IHS Markit’s Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, seen as a good overall indicator of growth, to dip to 54.9 in May from 55.1 in April to mark a new multi-month low.

While business activity remains in expansion territory, any signs of softness could reinforce a view that an ECB rate hike remains some way off - keeping the gap between U.S. and German 2-year bond yields near their widest in three decades.

Next week’s U.S. data clues meanwhile will likely be scrutinised for signs of labour market tightening and price pressures building. All of which of course sets the scene for a likely rate hike from the Federal Reserve in June.

US labor market tightening; mid-Atlantic factory activity picks up

Fed’s Kaplan: U.S. economy at or beyond full employment

ECB’s Nowotny says central bank should not wait too long to normalize policy

To view a graphic on Ready Steady PMI, click: reut.rs/2IvrzfN

2/EURO CRACKS

Since hitting a three-year high of $1.2550 back in February nothing has gone right for the euro. The latest blow is the concern over fiscal profligacy from Italy’s incoming coalition government.

With the euro set for its fifth week of losses in seven — it is languishing near 2018 lows around $1.1763 — many investors are racing to protect against further downside risks, and signs are hedge funds have struck large options to protect against further losses — a $1.8 billion option was expiring in the past week, followed by $1.6 billion in the week ahead.

But if concerns over an Italian borrowing binge rise further that could pressure long euro positions which are still near record highs despite a recent surge in the dollar, according to U.S. CFTC data.

As Italian bonds selloff, currency derivatives are flashing amber. Risk reversals on the euro — a currency market option market gauge for a ratio of calls to puts for a currency — in one-month and three-month tenors EUR1MRR= EUR3MRR= have fallen to their lowest levels since May 2017. That indicates markets are turning cautious if not outright bearish.

Italian markets hammered by fears of govt spending binge.

Options market points to more pain for the euro vs dollar.

To view a graphic on Euro risk reversals and positions, click: reut.rs/2Iz9KMY

3/DEEP FRIED ASIA

Asia accounts for two thirds of the global growth, but its momentum is not usually strong enough in itself to push global inflation higher. With oil prices at $80 a barrel, however, that may be about to change.

Asia is by far the worst hit region as it consumes much more than it produces. Its oil bill is now in the region of $1 trillion and countries such as Indonesia and India which already have trade deficits, are beginning to struggle.

Indonesia hiked rates on Thursday one month after the central bank said it saw no need to rush yet the rupiah languishes near 2-1/2 year lows IDR=. The Indian rupee INR= is approaching all-time lows and this week's data showed inflation already accelerating in April.

Bond yields are also on the rise, with Indian 10-year yields approaching three-year highs this week and Indonesian yields near one-year highs

In many countries though the inflation pass-through is still limited, mostly due to sluggish domestic demand. But price growth data next week from Singapore and Malaysia will be closely watched, with risks seen on the upside for once — a rare occurrence over the past decade.

Asia oil thirst tab $1 trillion a year as crude rises to $80

Indonesia, hit by pressure, raises key rate to help fragile rupiah

Asian bonds see big foreign selloff in April on rising U.S. yields

To view a graphic on Oil consumption, click: reut.rs/2LbipH1

4/BANK SHOCK IN ITALY

Call them optimistic or complacent, until now investors were pretty unfussed about the talks to form Italy’s next government. However, the past week, after 5-Star and the League agreed on a government platform, has been the worst in more than two months for Milan’s stock market, given the incoming coalition’s plans to spend more and tax less.

Worst hit are banks and utilities, driving most of the stock market losses — Italian banks are major holders of government bonds where yields have surged to multi-month highs this weeks, for their biggest weekly jump in almost three years. The worry is the selloff will saddle banks with heavy losses on their bond portfolios.

Utilities are also in the firing line as the programme includes a strong focus on green energy. Analysts say the turn to renewables could depress power prices, hurting state-controlled utility Enel and A2A.

The shock comes after a long period of Italian outperformance, driven by strong company earnings and a recovering economy.

Whether the market will be able to recover from here depends, to a large extent, on the planned fiscal measures being watered down - under likely pressure from Brussels.

Italy anti-system parties to boost spending, seek review of EU rules

Italian utilities under pressure on government policy risk

How much Italian spending could markets handle?

To view a graphic on Political risk threatens Italy's outperformance, click: reut.rs/2IvNxiD

5/VENEZUELA VOTES

Venezuela holds presidential elections on Sunday with Nicolas Maduro, the 55-year-old socialist incumbent and former bus driver who has presided over the Latin American country’s economic meltdown, virtually assured of victory.

Two of his most popular opponents are banned from running and the electoral council is pro-government but brave marketeers will watching closely.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened further sanctions and if that happens it could ramp up its problems so far that it encourages regime change.

For investors that might be the glimmer of hope they need to buy up the country’s battered bonds again. Much of Caracas’ sovereign debt has long been classed as in default but debt of Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA, in this case the 2020 bonds backed by assets of refiner Citgo, have obvious attractions.

Hundreds protest against ‘fixed’ election in Venezuela

Venezuela debt rally may falter despite oil price, election

Venezuela PDVSA begins interest payments on 2020 bond -sources

To view a graphic on Venezuela debt, click: reut.rs/2L9VY55

Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe, Saikat Chatterjee and Helen Reid in London; Daniel Bases in New York and Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; compiled by Sujata Rao; Editing by Alison Williams

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