Ryanair and what’s shifting markets Friday

European equity markets are slightly softer as investors mull the possibility that the US tax reform bill may get derailed at the last minute. The anticipation of US tax reform has fuelled the US equity rally and given financials a major boost, so the stakes are high.

The Republicans can afford a draw in the Senate, as vice-president Mike Pence casts the deciding vote, but this deal is a key risk for markets, and its defeat, while unlikely, could cause carnage.

Markets have weathered the week of central bank decisions well, with no major surprises delivered and global bankers keen to maintain a dovish approach that does not spook investors. Janet Yellen nevertheless confirmed the Fed’s intention to raise rates three times next year, as well as drawing down the Fed’s balance sheet by $20 billion per month.

On his part, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi is clearly more optimistic about European growth, even if he has promised to continue QE until September next year.

Global inflation levels will, therefore, remain a key factor in 2018, since any return of inflationary pressures could soon prompt central banks to take a more hawkish bias.

Ryanair (RYA) has had a tumultuous year, having loaded the gun, pulled the trigger and shot themselves in the foot over pilot and rostering issues in the autumn. However, today’s announcement that it wants to recognise pilot unions to avert strike action over Christmas and stabilise investor concerns over staff shortages is a positive step.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary has been synonymous with not caring about PR and expecting everyone to fall into line with his way of thinking, so this approach is far more conciliatory.

Ryanair’s passengers and investors will be hoping that this change of approach works.

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