Written by Dominic Williams

The snap election in France continues to cause fear in markets.

The week ended with modest gains for US stocks, with small caps performing best, as evidenced by the Russell 2000, an index composed of 2000 small cap companies, gaining +1.6%, in GBP terms. Additionally, the Technology sector continued to perform strongly, and growth stocks outperformed their value counterparts. The technology-heavy Nasdaq index finished the week up +0.2%.

The US Core Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCE Index) showed that prices paid by consumers, excluding food and energy, rose by +0.1% in May. This is a deceleration from April’s upwardly revised figure of +0.3%. The Core PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and this deceleration suggests a potential path towards an interest rate cut in September.

Political uncertainty persists in France following Emmanuel Macron’s snap election call. Both the far-right and far-left are in the lead in the polls, proposing policies to reverse Macron’s fiscal reforms, some of which include populist ideas conflicting with EU fiscal rules. Despite Le Pen’s party scaling back on costly proposals such as delaying the reversal of Macron’s pension reforms, many unfunded policies remain, raising concerns over fiscal responsibility. A parliament dominated by extreme parties could lead to political gridlock, intensifying uncertainty and instability. Markets responded negatively, with the MSCI Europe ex-UK falling by -0.7% in GBP terms over the week.

In Japan, markets rose over the week. The MSCI Japan Index rose by +0.5% in GBP terms. The continued weakness of the yen supported export-heavy industries. While there were expectations of official intervention to stabilise the yen, only verbal reassurances were provided. Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki stated that authorities were “deeply concerned” about the impacts of “rapid and one-sided” currency movements. Suzuki affirmed the view that excessive volatility in the currency market is undesirable and that authorities would respond appropriately.


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