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Chipmakers revive stocks as the euro struggles

Chipmakers have revived equity markets, allaying investor concerns about a possible rapid recession due to impending rate hikes, as the euro struggled near a 20-year parity with the safe-haven dollar.

The British pound rose 0.6 percent on reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will resign after a series of ministerial resignations, following a two-year low on Wednesday amid political uncertainties. The FTSE blue chip index in London gained 0.9 percent.

Crude oil has fluctuated from $100 a barrel as tight inventories and demand concerns eclipsed the market’s attention.

Semiconductor companies rose in Europe after South Korean Samsung posted its best second-quarter profit in four years. Stable US stock futures also boosted European equities.

The STOXX index of 600 European companies rose 1.2 percent to 412 points, still about 16 percent lower than its record high six months ago.

The global MSCI stock index rose 0.4 percent, after losing about one-fifth of its value so far this year.

Kevin Thozet, member of the investment committee at Carmignac Asset Management, said economic data in the US pointed to slower economic growth, but not an impending recession.

“Markets may be exaggerating recession risk or a recession that is coming very soon,” Thozet said, adding that investors have been targeting utilities such as pharmaceutical companies, which are less prone to downturns.

“We collectively buy more what we need than we want,” said Thozet.

Elsewhere in Europe, the euro has been trying to recover from its nearly two-decade low against the dollar.

“The euro is in free fall and we haven’t heard a single European Central Bank official say it. It’s like they’re locked in a bunker,” Thozet said.

“It’s not just a recession, it’s a matter of how dark it gets in Europe,” added Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone real estate in Melbourne.

Unlike the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve, the ECB has yet to start raising rates despite record high inflation in the eurozone, but the central bank is expected to raise rates by 25 basis points later this month.

“They could be up 50 basis points and they probably should,” Thozet said.

S&P 500 futures were up 0.4 percent, signaling a steady start on Wall Street later in the session.

Benchmarked the US 10-year yield was last at 2.942 percent, up slightly that day after falling from a more than 11-year high of 3.498 percent on June 14.

The yield curve, as measured by the difference between the two- and 10-year US bond yields, continued to push further into the inverse region, a sign that bond markets suspect aggressive rate hikes to contain inflation.

“The coincidence of rather hot labor market data and much more resilient ISM services… further underscores the point that the Fed is unlikely to slow the pace and intensity of tightening,” said Mizuho economist Vishnu Varathan.

“The next litmus test of yield direction…will be the speeches by Bullard and Waller — which should shed more light on the thinking of the aggressive camp within the (Fed),” said NatWest Markets interest rate strategist Jan Nevruzi.

Are they leaning on fears of a recession or are they continuing to insist that the Fed move above neutral as soon as possible and contain inflation, regardless of the cost to growth?

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Fed Governor Christopher Waller will both speak at 1700 GMT, although Friday’s US payroll data is also eagerly awaited.

Asian equities posted gradual gains, with the broadest MSCI index of Asia-Pacific equities outside of Japan rising 1 percent from a two-month low.

Japan’s Nikkei closed 1.47 percent higher, while South Korea’s KOSPI index gained 1.8 percent, its best day in nearly two weeks, with Samsung Electronics one of the biggest gainers after reporting earnings estimates showing a recovery for his chip business suggested.

The Australian and New Zealand dollars scraped themselves from two-year lows, gaining 0.51 percent and 0.54 percent, respectively.

Brent crude futures fell below $100 a barrel early in the Asia session but rebounded, last standing at $101.23, up 0.5 percent on the day, but a down nearly 10 percent for the week so far.

Shanghai copper stabilized but has lost 20 percent in a month as investors worry about demand for the industrial metal.

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