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Market Update

Missiles filed into Iraq and Syria, Trump's victory in Iowa, potential for a wipeout of the UK conservative party, Ukraine's president confirms a global peace summit, and what's happening in the market today.

We wish the big news of the day was Trump cruising to victory in the first Republican primary yesterday, but things in the Middle East continue to escalate…

Iran’s revolutionary guard fired missiles into Iraq and Syria yesterday, targeting what they say were Israeli “spy headquarters”  as well as targets linked to ISIS. Iraq have condemned the attack and called them a violation of sovereignty but is likely to respond via the UN than any kind of military response.

Iran ‘s Revolutionary Guard are also said to be operating in Yemen, stationing missile and drone trainers and operators in the country, as well as providing tactical intelligence support and also overseeing the transfer of drones and missiles. Yesterday a US owned cargo vessel was hit by a missile. The damage wasn’t severe, but it does reinforce the issue that significant military might isn’t of much use against highly mobile and relatively low cost munitions in this scenario.

Quite amazingly, oil prices remain pretty constant as markets hope that all of these incidents continue to be ‘isolated’, though there’s obviously a lot of irony in that statement.

Donald Trump, as expected, cruised to victory in the Iowa caucuses yesterday, despite concerns that temperatures as low as minus 30 might have kept some of his base at home. There are two ways of looking at this, according to the FT:

The first, and most likely the reality, is that Trump owns the Republican party in a way that no one else has ever done and him being on the election ballot paper in November is already a done deal.

The second interpretation is that Iowa is a quirky state that has only picked the presidential nominee six times in the last 50 years. The state is much more evangelically Christian than New Hampshire, the venue of the next caucus, which Nikki Haley will be hoping comes in with a much narrower spread between her and The Donald.

Interestingly, Ms Haley didn’t even make it to second place in Iowa, with Ron DeSantis’ eye watering TV advertising spending pushing him up the rankings to second. If Nikki Haley is to have a better chance, she could do with Ron DeSantis throwing in the towel and putting his support behind her, but after yesterday that doesn’t seem like an immediate possibility. Click here to read the FT article.

In UK Politics

There was a major poll conducted that showed the conservatives would face a 1997 style wipeout if the election were to be held now. The interesting part isn’t so much the poll, but who commissioned it and the timing of its release. The commissioning was undertaken by a group of conservative donors and the publication comes as The Commons are due to vote on the Rwanda bill today.

The purported aim of the publication was to pressure Rishi into taking a harder line on the deportation plans and if he doesn’t he’s facing rebellion from a number of his own MPS including the party’s deputy leader Lee Anderson.

If the bill doesn’t pass it’s a major headache for the PM and could well trigger enough letters of no confidence being submitted to the 1922 committee to force a vote of no confidence in Rishi. Today we get the committee stage of the bill, which the government hopes to be able to pass without amendment and then the vote on Wednesday, which would take just 27 Conservative MPS voting against the bill, or 57 abstaining for it to fail.

In Davos

Ukraine’s president Zelensky has confirmed that Switzerland will host a global peace summit. Switzerland has a long tradition of neutrality and has previously acted as a broker for conflict resolution, but it is not yet clear who will be in attendance.

Mr Zelenksy has said that “we are open to all countries that respect our sovereignty and territorial integrity at the peace summit, so draw conclusions about who we invite… we would like the global South to be present… it is important for us to show that the whole world is against Russia’s aggression, and the whole world is for a just peace”.

We can’t see how in any circumstance a deal gets done without Russia at the table, regardless of the pressure the rest of the world exerts on them, but perhaps this is the start of something.

Looking To Today

UK wage growth numbers have already been posted and came in lower than expected – if we see a soft inflation print tomorrow to accompany it then that would be a very strong signal for a BoE rate cut.

For the rest of the day we’ve got the German ZEW index, US Empire Manufacturing and a couple of central bank speakers. We can’t help but think it will once again be politics moving the markets over economics though.

Have a great day.


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