US shares closed higher for a third straight week.
Nonetheless, the index remains about 5 per cent below its bull market highs on concerns including the war in Ukraine, hawkish central banks, surging inflation, energy and commodity shortages and simmering growth concerns.
Also climbing for a third straight week, the ASX200, which closed at 7494, less than 2 per cent (or a few good sessions away) from testing its August 2021 all-time high at 7633.
Here is a review of the top five things to watch in markets this week:
1. Russian war crimes outrage
Shocking images of Russian genocide in Ukraine have likely poisoned peace talks planned for this week.
The world now waits to see how Ukraine and the West will respond.
2. Russia demands Europe pay for gas in rubles
Russia’s Gazprom has demanded clients pay for their gas in rubles from April 1.
Europe relies on Russia for about 38 per cent of its gas needs, and whether Gazprom’s demand that involves a EUR/RUB currency transaction carried out by Gazprombank, undermines sanctions agreed at an EU level is still to be determined.
3. RBA meeting
The RBA is expected to leave the cash rate unchanged at 0.1 per cent this afternoon.
The focus will be on language that indicates the RBA is moving closer to hiking interest rates this year for the first time since November 2010.
The RBA has previously stated that it needs to see a lift in wages growth for inflation to return “sustainably” within its target band – a scenario that seems unlikely until August.
The Australian interest rate market is itching to get started and is fully priced for an RBA interest rate hike in June.
4. FOMC meeting
The FOMC meeting minutes for March, from when the Fed raised interest rates, will be in focus.
Fed chair Jerome Powell has indicated that the minutes will provide more details on the Fed’s balance sheet reduction, expected to commence in May.
5. Has crude oil topped out?
Crude oil closed the week below $100 p/b for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine after the US announced a significant release of oil from its strategic reserves.
Based on some back of envelope calculations, the release could offset anywhere between one-third and up to a half of lost Russian and Kazakhstan oil – enough to indicate a medium-term market high is in place at $130 p/b.
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