ECB: Short term rates anchored

Key Insights

• ECB tone: The European Central Bank announced the end of the asset purchasing programme for year-end but introduced a commitment to leave rates unchanged until the summer 2019, so anchoring the expectations of low rates for an extended period of time.

• Economy and risks: The ECB growth scenario is in line with our expectations (we expect slightly lower growth next year, at 1.8%). Risks have increased (trade tensions, oil prices, economic-policy uncertainty in Europe) but have no reason to derail the current expansion. On the inflation side, the ECB projections have been revised up, indicating that second round effects, i.e. a mini wage-price spiral, could materialise.

• Market implications on European fixed income: The ECB has reinforced the anchoring of the short maturities and the directionality of the curve. Upside surprises on growth and/or inflation should impact the longer maturities and translate into a steeper curve. In corporate markets we keep a cautious approach, but the strong fundamentals and the widening of the spreads is opening selective opportunities. For peripheral markets, the current rate environment should favour spread tightening, according to the specific fiscal positions.

• On currencies and global fixed income: With the normalisation of monetary policies, specific situations in EM countries and the rise in geopolitical risk, currency volatility will remain the name of the game and will continue to open opportunities on the currency market. Monetary policy divergences, also visible in the last CB meetings, create investment opportunities both on currencies and on bonds. We could expect a further widening of the spread between US and core Euro yields.

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