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Morning Update

Death toll continues to rise in Israel, China's largest developer is back in the headlines, and revised Fed rate expectations.

Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of war on Saturday, Israeli forces ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip yesterday as geopolitical tensions continue to rise. Israel says it has now secured its border with Gaza, three days after armed Hamas militants broke through lines, as the Israeli Air Force also said that some 200 targets in Gaza were hit overnight. The death toll continues to rise across both sides with Palestinian authorities saying that 690 people have been killed in the strikes on Gaza while at least 900 people have been killed in Israel, including over 100 at the Supernova music festival, held last weekend. According to Israeli sources, more than 50 members of Israeli forces and Israeli civilians, including women and children, were captured and forcibly taken into Gaza.

 

Israel has now mobilised some 300,000 reservists to the front line as the United States has stated that it would send Naval warships, an aircraft carrier and military jets including F-35s to Israel. As the FT writes, “Israel said it had fully deployed 35 military battalions and four divisions and was ‘building an infrastructure for future operations’, ahead of a widely expected ground operation in Gaza”. As geopolitical tensions rise, EU foreign ministers will today host an emergency meeting on the conflict as will foreign ministers of the Arab League.

More around the latest developments can be found at the BBC, click here to read.

 

Clouds Forming over Country Garden

China’s largest private developer, Country Garden is back in the headlines with renewed concerns over the firm defaulting on international debts. In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, the property giant said yesterday that it expects it “will not be able to meet all of its offshore payment obligations” when due. At the end of the last calendar year, Country Garden had total liabilities of some $194bn and some $10bn in USD denominated debt. As we looked at earlier this summer, according to the Telegraph “its potential failure to repay its debts would dwarf the default of developer China Evergrande two years ago”. This came as Country Garden could not meet international bond payments back in August. This led to a 30-day grace period being instated which allowed the property giant to avoid default, but pressure now appears to be mounting. Instability around Country Garden has thus renewed fears over the fragility of the Chinese property market, with potential contagion risks spanning far from China’s shores.

 

Markets Downwardly Revise Fed Rate Expectations

Yesterday evening, Vice Chair of the Fed Philip N. Jefferson indicated that “We are in a sensitive period of risk management, where we have to balance the risk of not having tightened enough, against the risk of policy being too restrictive”. Jefferson further stated that “Looking ahead, I will remain cognizant of the tightening in financial conditions through higher bond yields and will keep that in mind as I assess the future path of policy.” Jefferson also reiterated the time lag effects of monetary tightening, in a nod to how the impact of rate cuts have not fully percolated through the economy. As we looked at yesterday, Jefferson was recently confirmed by the Senate as vice chair of the Fed in an 88-10 vote which generally speaking demonstrated bipartisan support for him. Jefferson’s voting record (which has involved him opting to raise rates each time since March 2022), is indicative of what many describe as his slightly more hawkish stance and thus yesterday slightly more dovish undertones fed into markets downwardly revising their rate hike expectations from the Federal Reserve. This was on the back end of Dallas Fed president Lorie Logan who similarly expressed some dovish concerns over the prospect of over-tightening. Both speakers however reiterated how inflation remains above target, and that the Fed would remain focused on bringing it back down.

Accordingly, as Reuters notes the “CME Group’s FedWatch showed the estimated chance of a rate hike at the Fed’s upcoming meeting plummet from around 27% at the start of the day to around 14% after the two officials spoke. The chance of a rate increase at the December meeting fell from around 36% to 24%.”

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