Marketmind: China sets sombre tone with property turmoil

German share price index DAX graph is pictured in Frankfurt

A look at the day ahead in European and global markets from Kevin Buckland

China continues to set the mood for markets, and the tone is unswervingly sombre.

Property boom poster child China Evergrande has filed for Chapter 15 protection in a U.S. bankruptcy court, putting an exclamation point on a torrid week for the real estate sector and stoking expectations that authorities will at some point leap to the rescue with bold stimulus.

Such hopes may have bolstered Chinese property shares in the Asian morning, but the wider markets in China and the rest of the region were gloomy. The Hang Seng Index sank about 0.7%, with mainland Chinese, Japanese and South Korean shares all also down.


The People's Bank of China was signalling its intent to shore up the yuan again today, setting the official mid-point a whopping 1,000 pips stronger than the Reuters estimate.

The currency needs such help if it's going to keep clear of Thursday's nine-month lows, after an emergency rate cut this week hinted at a reduction in the loan prime rate on Monday. And with U.S. benchmark yields heading for pre-financial crisis highs, the yield gap between the two economies is yawning.

China is playing a part on the U.S. yield side, too, as investors grow increasingly concerned about China cashing in some of its massive Treasury holdings to fund dollar selling by state banks, which has been propping up the yuan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. currency is set for a fifth straight winning week, drawing strength both from Chinese economic woes - which boost its appeal as a haven, and from robust domestic data - which boosts the case for yet another hike by the Fed.

One potential monkey wrench for the dollar, however, may be lurking in Japan. The dollar-yen rate has reached the heady levels that last September spurred the first yen-buying intervention by Japanese officials in a generation.

And while officials in Tokyo have been relatively quiet so far, traders are treading carefully.

A light calendar in Europe today argues for Asia to grab most of the attention, but British retail sales will certainly be watched as the market grapples with how much more the Bank of England has to do in its battle with inflation.

ECB chief economist Philip Lane offers some insight into the thinking of the bloc's monetary policy makers in a podcast, followed about an hour later by euro zone inflation data.

Key developments that could influence markets on Friday:

UK July retail sales

Euro zone July HICP final reading

Philip Lane speaks in an ECB podcast about the role of central banks in fighting inflation

(Reporting by Kevin Buckland; Editing by Edmund Klamann)