Catalonia Fears Recede, IBEX and Euro Rally
- The IBEX 35 index of Spanish stocks rallied Monday as fears of secession by the Catalan region eased.
- The Euro and Spanish government bonds also strengthened as a poll suggested a majority in Catalonia favor remaining part of Spain.
The IBEX 35 index of Spanish stocks, the Euro and Spanish sovereign bond prices all rallied Monday as fears receded of a breakaway by Spain’s Catalonia region. Over the weekend, there were demonstrations in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, in favor of a united Spain and a poll suggested a slim majority in the region for parties opposed to independence.
That followed the sacking of the Catalan regional government, the imposition of direct control by Madrid and the calling of a snap regional election on December 21. In response, the IBEX index was up 1.35% at 10,335 by mid-morning, the Spanish 10-year government bond yield was down 5.4 basis points at 1.529% and the Euro was firmer against the US Dollar.
Chart: EUR/USD Five-Minute Timeframe (October 20, 2017)
The Euro’s recovery came despite last Thursday’s “dovish taper” by the European Central Bank, which paved the way for a withdrawal of monetary stimulus for the Euro-Zone economy early next year but made clear that it expects interest rates to remain at their current low levels for an extended period of time.
Attention will now focus on whether regional ministers will refuse to leave their posts, whether Catalan civil servants will continue to work and the extent of peaceful opposition to Madrid. That leaves political risk still firmly in the markets’ cross-hairs and sentiment towards the Euro still poor in what could turn out to be a greater threat to the Euro-Zone than Brexit.
Pro-independence parties were seen as taking 42.5% of the vote while anti-independence parties would win 43.4%, according to the poll of some 1,000 people surveyed by Sigma Dos and published in the anti-independence newspaper El Mundo.
Meanwhile Spanish data released Monday showed third-quarter economic growth at the expected 0.8% quarter/quarter while October inflation was at the predicted 1.7% year/year.
--- Written by Martin Essex, Analyst and Editor
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