U.S. February housing starts fall slightly to a 698,000 annual rate:
UK inflation edged down to 3.4% in February:
Spanish banks’ bad loans highest since August 1994
Most U.S. banks passed their annual stress test driving shares higher. Where does this leave their valuation? Looking at price-to-book value in aggregate (1st chart) they are only just trading above a ratio of one, looking cheap compared to a 15-year average ratio of two. However a premium is opening up over European banks which are still trading below book value, and analyst forecasts for return on equity suggest banks are in a very different environment to the last 15-years (2nd chart)
Could the Turkish central bank surprise markets again today?
Given its track record, few will dare to place firm bets on the outcome of today’s meeting but the general reckoning for now is that the bank will keep borrowing and lending rates steady and signal no immediate change to its weekly repo rate of 5.75 percent. With year-on-year inflation in the double digits, logic would dictate there is no scope for an easier monetary policy.
Anticipation is running high for the ECB’s LTRO 2.0 due on Feb 29.
The first such operation in December has largely benefited peripheral bonds even though estimates show banks used a bulk of their borrowing (seen at just 150-190 bln euros on a net basis) to repay their debt, as the graphic below shows.
China moved to ease policy this week via a reserve ratio cut for banks, effectively starting to reverse a tightening cycle that’s been in place since last January. Later the same day, Brazil’s central bank cut interest rates by 50 basis points for the third time in a row. Both countries are expected to continue easing policy as the global economic downturn bites. And last week Russia signalled that rate cuts could be on the way.