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Eyes on Russia/Ukraine as US look to place troops in Eastern Europe

Good morning

US and UK have ordered staff and/or their families to leave Ukraine amid warnings of an invasion by Russia. There hasn’t been any good news to come from talks so far and over the weekend press reports suggested Russia was aiming to place a pro-Moscow politician to become head of the Ukraine government. The West is still promising severe sanctions if Russia does make a move, US are reported to be considering sending troops to other Eastern European countries, not for a conflict with Russia but I presume to act as a deterrent.

While on the subject of military tensions, US has been conducting military drills in Taiwan Strait which has led to China sending aircraft into Taiwans air space.

ECB officials have been playing down inflation fears, Makhlouf says sees inflation slowing and no rate rise needed in 2022, Rehn sees inflation around 2% in two years while Holzmann does say the inflation outlook in uncertain. EURUSD currently 1.1325. UK’s Truss and EUs Sefcovic are due to meet this week in an attempt to resolve the Northern Ireland issues. Also due this week is Sue Grays report on the ‘parties’ held at No 10 during the height of the Covid pandemic. GBPUSD now 1.3550, EURGBP 0.8360 (GBPEUR 1.1960).

Goldmans have said they see Fed tightening rates in March, June, Sept and Dec 2022 but that risks are tilted to more rate rises. USD remains off last weeks lows.

In Covid news, the UK does appear to be enjoying a bit of respite as case numbers fall and Omicron still seems to be less severe than previous variants. Work from home guidance has been dropped and other restrictions are due to be eased this week. There is some talk that people testing positive for Covid will not have to isolate, that has been planned for 24th March but could be brought forward. Not quite sure how I feel about that. I do fear that some restrictions are ending too soon. NZ on the other hand is going into red alert, the highest level of Covid restrictions, and PM Ardern has cancelled her wedding plans in an attempt to fight their latest outbreak.

Onto weekend events and I bring you news of a terrific win for my young team. Up against a strong opposition, we were 2-1 down at half time but forced our way into a 3-2 lead. With just seconds to go, they equalised, taking the game to penalties. With each team having missed one, it all came down to the last penalty. Our keeper duly saved it, and we are through to the quarter finals. It was an unexpected but in the end a fully-deserved victory which led to something that I believe is described as a ‘work event’ after the match. Got to collect the car from the clubhouse later!

- 09.00 EU markit manufacturing, services PMI

- 09.30 UK markit manufacturing, services PMI

- 13.30 US Chicago Fed national activity index

- 14.45 US markit manufacturing, services PMI

- 00.30 AUS CPI, NAB business confidence

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