Skip to main content

What happened last week?


  • Cocoa prices hit a new record high.
  • Short sellers bet billions against crypto-related stocks.


  • The European Commission launched probes into Apple, Alphabet, and Meta.


  • The yen fell to its weakest level against the US dollar since 1990.

What does this mean?

Cocoa futures prices soared above $10,000 a metric tonne for the first time ever last week, making the humble beans more expensive than copper – the bellwether of industrial metals. The latest surge is likely down to the news that bad weather and disease have ravaged crops in Ghana, leaving the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer without enough beans to secure the funding farmers need for the next harvest.

Short sellers placed billions of dollars in bets that the rally in crypto-related stocks will eventually end. Total short interest, or the amount that contrarian traders have bet against crypto stocks, has increased to nearly $11 billion this year and is predominantly concentrated on two companies: MicroStrategy and Coinbase. Short interest in MicroStrategy, which owns 214,246 bitcoins valued at around $15 billion, now sits at more than 20% of its total shares outstanding, making it one of the most-shorted stocks on Wall Street.

The European Commission is making its first use of a landmark new law designed to rein in Big Tech’s market power. The bloc’s executive arm launched official probes last week into whether Apple and Alphabet were unduly favouring their own app stores, as well as Meta’s use of personal data for advertising. Under the new law, the companies could face hefty fines of up to 10% of their global revenue. US regulators are also tangling with Apple, accusing it of violating antitrust laws by blocking rivals on its popular devices.

Japan may have finally scrapped its negative interest rates, but its new levels still look squat compared to US yields – and that’s making the Japanese currency less attractive to savers and investors. So the yen slumped last week to its lowest level against the US dollar in over three decades, prompting investor speculation that the Bank of Japan might intervene in the currency market, selling stacks of its own greenbacks and buying the yen, just to give it a leg up.

This week’s focus: The US Labour Market

In its battle against a surge of red-hot inflation, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) has unleashed a heavy barrage of interest rate hikes over the past couple of years. You would usually expect that to bring the economy to its knees, but somehow, America’s growth and its labour market have managed to keep chugging along.

This week, we will get a fresh look at how well the job scene is doing, with the latest monthly update from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, due Friday.

Economists are predicting that the US economy added around 180,000 new jobs in March, down from February’s surprisingly strong 275,000, and that the unemployment rate held steady at 3.9%. In other words, they’re expecting the labour market to have cooled down a bit, but to have stayed in fairly good shape. However, they will also be focused on wage gains. Pay didn’t increase as much as expected in February. Since rising salaries are a key driver of inflation, the combination of labour market data points hinted at a healthy balance of sturdy economic growth and softening price rises.

If that trend continues, it will be music to the Fed’s ears. After all, an overly hot labour market would risk bolstering wages and encouraging Americans to keep on spending, despite higher borrowing costs and consumer prices. That would, in turn, prevent inflation from cooling down toward the Fed’s 2% target. On the other hand, a steep slump in the number of jobs would mean the central bank is failing on its other key responsibility: keeping employment turned up to the max.

So, with the labour market in a sweet spot and the Fed’s favourite inflation gauge sitting at 2.8% (not that far from target), the central bank should have the confidence it needs to start lowering interest rates back toward more “neutral” levels. Think of this as the equilibrium level of interest rates that keeps employment, growth, and inflation all in harmony. The Fed is walking the walk, reaffirming at its latest meeting that it still expects to lower interest rates three times this year while pencilling in a similar number of cuts for 2025.

  • The Week Ahead

    • Monday: Markets closed in Europe and the UK for the Easter Monday holiday. China manufacturing PMI (March), US manufacturing PMI (March).
    • Tuesday: US job openings and labour turnover survey (February), UK mortgage approvals and lending (February).
    • Wednesday: China services PMI (March), US services PMI (March), eurozone inflation (March), eurozone unemployment rate (February), OPEC meeting.
    • Thursday: Minutes of the European Central Bank’s latest meeting, eurozone producer price index (February), US trade balance (February).
    • Friday: Japan household spending (February), UK house price index (March), eurozone retail sales (February), US labour market report (March).

    This document is provided to you for your information and discussion purposes only. It is not a solicitation for business or an offer to buy or sell any security or other financial instrument. Any information including facts, opinions, or quotations, may be condensed or summarised and are expressed as of the date of writing. The information may change without notice and Trusted Novus Bank (“TNB”) is under no obligation to ensure that such updates are brought to your attention. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

    This document has been prepared by TNB from sources TNB believes to be reliable but TNB does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness and does not accept liability for any loss arising from its use. TNB reserves the right to remedy any errors that may be present in this document.

    Trusted Novus is registered in Gibraltar under number 3207. Its registered address and principal place of business is: Trusted Novus Bank Limited, 76 Main Street, Gibraltar GX11 1AA. It is regulated by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (Permission Number 3207) to provide Banking and Investment Services. TNB is a member of the Gibraltar Deposit Guarantee Board ( and the Gibraltar Investor Compensation Scheme (