Written by Cormac Nevin.

Markets were flat last week, with the MSCI All Country World Index of global equities down -0.3% in GBP terms. What was notable was the continued underperformance of Continental European equities, which are down -1.6% in GBP for the quarter to date, compared to a +1.5% gain for global equity markets. After a strong start to the year, Europe ex-UK equity markets have given up their relative gains vs global equities and are now up only +8.0% vs 9.7%.

Economic data from the continent continues to come in weak as the diverse set of economies which constitute the Eurozone face an array of challenges. Purchasing Managers Indices (PMIs) are broadly tracked as a forward-looking measure of economic performance and these have been undershooting already low expectations across countries such as France, Germany, and Italy for both the manufacturing and services sectors of each economy. Consumer price inflation continues to come in higher than the European Central Bank’s (ECB) target of 2%, with readings of +6.4% year-on-year recorded in Germany last week.

However, a more leading measure of input inflation, the Producer Price Index (PPI) for the Eurozone, is now recording very steep declines in input prices falling -7.6% year-on-year as of last week. This is the most negative PPI reading since the global financial crisis in 2008/09 and ought to really give the ECB pause to consider whether inflation is the most pressing issue on a forward-looking basis and if interest rates are now so high that they are excessively restricting economic growth.

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