Large European Countries Temporarily Suspend The AstraZeneca Vaccine

Market movers today

  • In Europe, the German March ZEW index will be the most important data release of the day. We will also get some revised inflation figures from France and Italy.

  • A key focus area in Europe is the suspension of the Astra Zeneca vaccine in many European countries. Today there is a conference call between European health ministers followed by a decision by the European Medicines Agency on Thursday.

  • In the US, the February retail sales and industrial production figures are due for release. While industrial production is expected to continue its steady recovery, it will be interesting to see if the momentum driven by the earlier round of USD 600 stimulus checks will carry over from January.

  • The Swedish Prospera inflation expectation survey for Q1 is expected to show higher expectations (see Nordic Macro and Markets for more details).

The 60-second overview

Problems with the AstraZeneca vaccine: Yesterday, Germany, France, and Italy joined smaller European countries (including Denmark and Norway) is temporarily suspending the use of AstraZeneca vaccines over concerns that the vaccine has caused deaths from blood clots.

European health ministers are due to discuss the situation today and the European Medicines Agency will announce the next steps on Thursday. We expect the suspension to be temporary, but a key question is what damage to the public’s perception of the vaccine has been caused by the concerns, reducing the take-up going forward.

Equities: Equities were mostly higher yesterday, but with defensives leading. From a factor perspective, growth also outperformed, taking Europe lower but the US higher. S&P closed up 0.6%, Dow 0.5%, Nasdaq 1.1% and Russell 0.3%. On sectors, utilities, consumer discretionary, and real estate were the outperformers in the US, while materials lagged with energy and financials the only sectors lower. The growth appetite continues this morning with US futures in the mixed territory (Nasdaq higher, Dow lower) and slightly positive indices across Asia.

FI: Bond yields declined yesterday as a response to more EU countries suspending the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Furthermore, the expected increase in the ECB bond purchases is also supportive for bond yields and spreads even though the purchase from last week showed only a modest increase in net buying relative to the week before. ECB’s net purchase was EUR 14bn relative to EUR 12bn the week before.

FX: Yesterday was another quiet day in FX space. EUR/USD ended the day marginally lower while NOK had a volatile start to the week although EUR/NOK ended yesterday’s session virtually unchanged. EUR/DKK spot remains unaffected by the moves in the FX forward market and trades close to the 7.4360 recent low.

Credit: There was a slight sell-off in the EUR credit market yesterday where iTraxx Xover widened to 245bp (+2bp) while Main closed only marginally wider, ending in 47½bp. Cash bonds saw the poorer performance, with HY widening around 3bp and IG some ½bp.

Nordic macro and markets

We have a series of interesting events in Sweden today: Prospera releases the big Q1 survey of inflation expectations. Given the slight upward trend in monthly money market expectations seen over the past months, there should be no surprise to see higher prints in this survey too. Riksbank’s Ingves and Jansson speak at the Riksdag Finance Committee on current monetary policy at CET 10.00. Riksbank buys SEK 1bn individual muni FRNs with 2025 maturities.

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