REFILE-MORNING BID-Is the 'misery index' coming back?

·2 min read

(Removes reference to euro zone finance ministers meeting)

May 17 - A look at the day ahead from Julien Ponthus

Higher inflation that forces the Federal Reserve to 'taper' its asset purchases has concerned investors of late but that worry came, at least, with the promise of strong economic growth.

Now though, the question could be whether recent poor jobs data and a surge in consumer prices bring back talk of the 'misery index', a gauge crafted by Republicans in the 1970s to describe the combo of rising prices and high unemployment .

Globally too, the picture is getting worrying, with supply chain bottlenecks and raw materials costs weighing on production and cooling the blistering economic recovery after last year's slump. Data on Monday showed output slowed at Chinese factories in April while retail sales underwhelmed.

Japan's wholesale prices meanwhile rose in April at their fastest annual pace in six-and-a-half years, lifted by energy and commodities costs.

And then there is COVID-19. Leaving aside the disaster in India, coronavirus is hitting hard across Asia, with Singapore shutting most schools from Wednesday and Taiwan's infection spike sending shares another 3% lower.

That forced the government to pledge it would stabilise stock and currency markets if needed.

For global equities, visibility is getting murky, though they are still basking in the afterglow of record shattering first quarter results. MSCI's Asian ex-Japan shares ticked up 0.1%, European futures were mixed and Wall Street peers slightly negative.

M&A is a force to be reckoned with however -- telecoms giant AT&T Inc is nearing a deal to combine its media assets, including CNN and HBO, with Discovery Inc, the owner of lifestyle TV networks such as HGTV and TLC. The new company may be valued at $150 billion

Finally, bitcoin fell 12% over the weekend to its lowest since February after tweets from Elon Musk hinted that Tesla may have sold, or will sell, its holdings.

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Monday:

- British house prices have risen further over the past month, property website Rightmove said.

Ryanair reported a record annual after-tax loss of 815 million euros ($989 million)

- Speeches by Bank of England's Andy Haldane, Gertjan Vlieghe

- Federal Reserve: Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, Fed vice Chair Richard Clarida and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; editing by Sujata Rao)