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Market Outlook: The geopolitical situation continues to dominate the news

Worries about rising inflation, monetary policies and the Ukraine situation continue to dominate the world’s financial markets. The Stoxx Europe 600 equity index rose by 1.6% between February 4 and 11, while Sweden’s All-Share Index (OMXSPI) also gained 1.1%. In the United States, the S&P 500 index lost ground during last Friday’s trading and closed the week down by 1.8%.

In the fixed income market, 10-year US Treasury yields continued higher last week, soaring past 2.00% on Wednesday, February 9. After dropping sharply later in the week, they are back above 2%. Oil prices also reached new heights. The price of Brent crude climbed above USD 95 per barrel last week before falling slightly during February 14-15.

The world

The Ukraine crisis – a delicate situation

The Ukraine situation continues to weigh down financial markets. A war remains highly possible, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s appeal to President Vladimir Putin – to keep negotiating with the West – eased worries about an immediate armed conflict. Russia’s defence minister also announced that some of the military exercises along the border with Ukraine would soon end, which helped reduce tensions. But the situation remains delicate. For more about the Ukraine crisis, see below.

The United States

The minutes of the latest Federal Reserve policy meeting will be published tonight

On February 16 (tonight, Swedish time), the minutes of the US central bank’s policy meeting in late January will be released. They are likely to confirm that the Fed will start hiking its key interest rate in March. We are sticking to our forecast of five rate hikes during 2022.

The Nordic countries

Inflation figures for January are coming

On Thursday, February 17, inflation expectations in both Norway and Sweden will be published and may have a decisive influence on monetary policies. On February 18, Swedish inflation figures for January will be released This will be of great interest, since the Riksbank has emphasised its 2 per cent inflation target. We expect CPIF inflation (the consumer price index excluding interest rate changes) to drop back from 4.1% year-on-year in December to 3.4%.

The Swedish krona has weakened

A dovish central bank, together with weak risk appetite due to worries about a possible war, is not a good combination for the krona. The EUR/SEK exchange rate climbed this week above 10.60, its highest level since September 2020, and remains around 10.55. We believe that the krona is undervalued at current levels, but we see little opportunity for a near-term change as long as geopolitical tensions persist. The Riksbank will probably also have to signal that it is about to hike its repo rate before we see a clear SEK appreciation.

Extra Market Commentary

Seven questions and answers about the situation in Ukraine

The financial markets are reacting negatively to the risk of an escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine. We have asked three of SEB's experts about their views on the conflict and what economic consequences we can expect if a Russian invasion of Ukraine becomes a reality.