Monthly Comment February 2023

January’s positive market sentiment shifted somewhat in February. European stock markets held up well, but in the US and in emerging markets, the trend was down. Mainly, the negative sentiment could be explained by a continued strong global business cycle, strong labour market and inflation figures that remain high. Altogether they increase the risk of continued interest rate hikes from the central banks. In the US, the debt ceiling was once again discussed – for the US to avoid default on its payments, the ceiling needs to be raised. It will most likely be solved but can create some uncertainty until it is done. The Fed and the ECB raised their policy rates by 0.25 and 0.50 percentage points respectively. Fed signalled that future changes are based on incoming data while the ECB is planning a further increase in March. In Sweden, the new head of the Riksbank, Erik Thedéen, chose to raise the interest rate by 0.50 percentage points. Perhaps even more important was a pronounced concern about the weak krona and further austerity of monetary policy by selling long government bonds starting in April – a measure that can mean a well needed, strengthened SEK.