inflation numbers

Sticky US inflation reduces chances of an early Fed rate cut

In the wake of the Federal Reserve's dovish shift in December, financial markets had moved to price an interest rate cut as soon as March. However, the tight jobs market and today's firmer-than-expected inflation numbers suggest this is unlikely, barring an economic or financial system shock. We continue to think the Fed will prefer to wait until May.


CPI comes in above expectations

December US CPI has come in at 0.3% month-on-month/3.4%year-on-year and core 0.3%/3.9% versus the 0.2/3.2% expectation for headline and 0.3/3.8% for core. So, it is a little disappointing, but not a huge miss. Meanwhile, initial jobless claims and continuing claims both came in lower than expected with continuing claims dropping to 1834k from 1868k – the lowest since late October. The combination of the two – slightly firmer inflation and good jobs numbers really brings into doubt the market expectation of a March rate cut from the Fed

ADP Employment Surges with 497,000 Gain, Nonfarm Payrolls Awaited - 07.07.2023

European Markets Sink Amid Recession Concerns and Oil Price Slump

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 31.05.2023 08:09
With the White House and Republican leaders agreeing a deal on the debt ceiling at the weekend markets are now obsessing about whether the deal will get the necessary votes to pass into law, as partisan interests line up to criticise the deal.   With the deadline for a deal now said to be next Monday, 5th June a vote will need to go forward by the end of the week, with ratings agencies already sharpening their pencils on downgrades for the US credit rating. European markets sank sharply yesterday along with bond yields, as markets started to fret about a recession, while oil prices sank 4% over demand concerns. US markets also struggled for gains although the Nasdaq 100 has continued to outperform as a small cohort of tech stocks contrive to keep US markets afloat. As we look towards today's European open and the end of the month, we look set for further declines after Asia markets slid on the back of another set of weak China PMIs for May. We'll also be getting another look at how things are looking with respect to economic conditions in Europe, as well as an insight into some key inflation numbers, although core prices will be missing from this snapshot. French Q1 GDP is expected to be confirmed at 0.2% while headline CPI inflation for May is expected to slow from 6.9% to 6.4%. Italian Q1 GDP is also expected to be confirmed at 0.5, and headline CPI for May is expected to slow from 8.7% to 7.5%. We finish up with the flash CPI inflation numbers from Germany, which is also expected to see a slowdown in headline from 7.6% to 6.7% in May. While this is expected to offer further encouragement that headline inflation in Europe is slowing, that isn't the problem that is causing investors sleepless nights. It's the level of core inflation and for that we'll have to wait until tomorrow and EU core CPI numbers for May, which aren't expected to show much sign of slowing.   We'll also get another insight into the US jobs markets and the number of vacancies in April, which is expected to fall from 9.59m in March to 9.4m. While a sizeable drop from the levels we were seeing at the end of last year of 11m, the number of vacancies is still over 2m above the levels 2 years ago, and over 3m above the levels they were pre-pandemic. The size of this number suggests that the labour market still has some way to go before we can expect to see a meaningful rise in the unemployment rate off its current low levels of 3.4%. EUR/USD – slipped to the 1.0673 area before rebounding with the 1.0610 area the next key support. We need to see a rebound above 1.0820 to stabilise.   GBP/USD – rebounded from the 1.2300 area with further support at the April lows at 1.2270. Pushed back to the 1.2450 area and the 50-day SMA, before slipping back. A move through 1.2460 is needed to open up the 1.2520 area.   EUR/GBP – slid to a 5-month low yesterday at 0.8628 just above the next support at 0.8620. A move below 0.8620 opens up the December 2022 lows at 0.8558. Main resistance remains at the 0.8720 area.   USD/JPY – ran into some selling pressure at 140.90 yesterday, slipping back to the 139.60 area which is a key support area. A break below 139.50 could see a return to the 137.00 area, thus delaying a potential move towards 142.50 which is the 61.8% retracement of the down move from the recent highs at 151.95 and lows at 127.20.   FTSE100 is expected to open 22 points lower at 7,500   DAX is expected to open 64 points lower at 15,845   CAC40 is expected to open 34 points lower at 7,175
UK Jobs Report Strengthens Case for June Rate Hike and Signals Caution on Rate Cuts

UK Jobs Report Strengthens Case for June Rate Hike and Signals Caution on Rate Cuts

ING Economics ING Economics 13.06.2023 13:18
Solid UK jobs report helps cement June rate hike Faster-than-expected wage growth points to a rate hike in June and potentially August, and is a reminder that pay pressures are likely to ease only gradually. That doesn't necessarily suggest the Bank of England needs to raise rates as aggressively as markets expect, but it does imply that rate cuts are some way off.   The latest UK jobs report is undeniably hawkish for the Bank of England.   The unexpected fall in the unemployment rate to 3.8%, which is still pretty close to all-time lows, underscores the overall resilience of the labour market right now. At the margins, there are still some signs of cooling, with vacancies edging lower and the redundancy rate higher, though both still look stronger than long-term averages.   Crucially for the Bank of England, we also saw another marked acceleration in wage growth – both when comparing the latest three-month period to the prior three, or to the same period last year. It's maybe easier to think about this in level terms, and regular pay increased by £4 across the most recent month of data, which compares to an average of £3-4 monthly increases through the second half of 2022. In other words, wage growth isn't necessarily accelerating – and indeed the annual rate of growth (now 7.2%) is unlikely to rise much further due to base effects. But it's also clear that wage growth is failing to fall back either.   Wage growth momentum is failing to slow     Admittedly, survey evidence suggests firms are looking to raise wages less aggressively over the coming months, and the BoE’s own survey of chief financial officers points to a marked slowdown in pay growth over the coming months. But as we wrote in more detail yesterday, we think it's going to take some time for wage growth to come down to something consistent with at-target inflation. Worker shortages do appear to have eased, and the number of workers inactive (neither employed nor actively seeking a job) has fallen in recent months. Nevertheless, it looks like some of the drivers of hiring difficulty during the pandemic are structural. That’s neatly demonstrated by a further rise in the number of workers outside of the labour market due to long-term sickness.   Overall inactivity levels have fallen, though long-term sickness remains an issue   For the Bank of England, all of this cements a June rate hike and if the inflation numbers continue to come in hot, it’s quite plausible that we end up with an August move as well. Much will depend on how CPI inflation comes out over the next couple of months. But the reality is that UK rates are now comfortably into restrictive territory, and we think the amount of tightening priced into markets – an additional 120bp of rate hikes – looks excessive. However, today’s data are a reminder that the Bank of England is unlikely to rush into rate cuts, which we think are unlikely until this time next year.
BOJ Verbal Intervention Sparks Market Reactions and Sets Stage for Eventful Week

Bank of England Rate Decision: Another Rate Hike Expected Amid Rising Inflation and Policy Concerns

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 19.06.2023 07:51
Bank of England rate decision – 22/06 – this week's central bank rate decision is likely to see the implementation of at least another rate 25bps rate hike from Bank of England policymakers, with the usual suspects of Tenreyro and Dhingra expected to dissent once more, despite UK core inflation surging in April to 6.8% and its highest level since the early 1990's.    With this being Tenreyro's last meeting, she is being replaced by Megan Greene next month, the dissent on the MPC is likely to be much less over the coming months. With average wages surging by 7.2% in the 3-months to April, we saw yet another blow to the central bank's tattered credibility, prompting concern that the MPC might have a lot more to do on the rate front in the coming months.   The current terminal rate being priced by markets is for the UK base rate to top out at 5.75%, 125bps higher from where we are now, after the April wages and unemployment data. While that is probably overpriced, the fact we are at these levels is further evidence of the Bank of England's failure on the policy front. The day before this week's decision we will be getting the latest inflation numbers for May which are expected to show headline inflation decline further from the 8.7% we saw in the April numbers. While this was the lowest level since March last year, it remains painfully high when compared to the likes of the US and in Europe.   Core prices are also higher, as wages continue to exert upward pressure on service cost inflation. For months now Bank of England policymakers have consistently underestimated the persistence of current inflationary trends, consistently hiding behind the Russian invasion of Ukraine, even as commodity prices have fallen well below the levels they rose to in the aftermath of that invasion.   While they are not completely to blame, they have made any number of mistakes, which they seem incapable of acknowledging. Offering mea-culpas appears to be beyond them, with officials showing little indication that they would have done anything different. This is especially worrying given that an acceptance that they might have got things wrong might require some introspection with a view to making changes to ensure a better outcome the next time. If a central bank can't acknowledge its mistakes, how can it learn from them and do things better the next time. 
Pound Slides as Market Reacts Dovishly to Wage Developments

Mixed Markets as UK Gilt Yields Surge and China Cuts Lending Rates

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 20.06.2023 07:44
With US markets closed, markets in Europe underwent a weak and subdued session at the start of the new week with yesterday's declines predominantly on the back of the late Friday sell-off in the US, which saw markets there close off their highs of the week. The lack of any further details on a China stimulus plan, along with additional upward pressure on interest rates over uncertainty about further rate rises, and a slowing global economy, saw European investors engage with some modest profit taking.     Asia markets were mixed this morning, even as the People's Bank of China cut its 1 and 5 year lending rates by a modest 10 bps.     The UK gilt market was the main source of movement in the bond market, with 2-year yields pushing up to their highest level in 15 years, while 5- and 10-year yields came close to the highs we saw at the end of September last year, after the Kwarteng budget.       There is growing anxiety about the effect the recent rise in UK gilt yields is already having on the mortgage market, a concern that was played out in the form of weakness in house building and real estate shares yesterday, as 2-year mortgage deals pushed above 6%.     It is also feeding into a wider concern that economic activity in the second half of the year will be constrained by increased mortgage costs, which in turn will push up rents as well as shrinking disposable income.     All eyes will be on tomorrow's inflation numbers with Bank of England policymakers praying that we start to see rapid slowdowns in how fast prices are rising before the end of the summer.     While prices have been slowing here in the UK they have been slowing more rapidly in the US as well as in Europe, although in Europe they also fell from much higher levels.     Today we get the latest Germany PPI numbers for May which have been slowing sharply from peaks of 45.8% back in August, and had come down to 17.6% by January this year. In today's numbers for May it is expected to see annualised price growth slow further to 1.7%, while seeing a -0.7% decline month on month.     Another monthly decline in today's numbers would be the 7th monthly decline in the last 8 months, in a sign that disinflation is working its way through the system, and could also manifest itself in this week's UK PPI numbers as well.     The puzzle is why it is taking so long to bleed into the headline CPI and core CPI numbers, though it could start to by the beginning of Q3. The Bank of England will certainly be praying it does. As we look towards today's European open its likely to be a modestly higher one.          EUR/USD – have slipped back from the 1.0970 area having broken above the 50-day SMA at 1.0880 which now acts as support. We still remain on course for a move towards the April highs at the 1.1095 area.     GBP/USD – slipped back from 1.2845/50 area with support now at 1.2750 which was the 61.8% retracement of the 1.4250/1.0344 down move. If we slip below 1.2750, we could see further weakness towards 1.2680. Still on course for a move towards the 1.3000 area.      EUR/GBP – remains under pressure and on course for further losses toward the 0.8470/80 area. Currently have resistance at 0.8580 area and behind that at 0.8620.     USD/JPY – still on course for a move towards the next resistance at 142.50 which is 61.8% retracement of the 151.95/127.20 down move. Above 142.50 targets the 145.00 area. Support now comes in at 140.20/30      FTSE100 is expected to open unchanged at 7,588     DAX is expected to open unchanged at 16,201     CAC40 is expected to open 7 points lower at 7,307
Market Highlights: US CPI, ECB Meeting, and Oil Prices

UK CPI Data Sets the Stage for Bank of England Rate Decision

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 21.06.2023 08:32
UK CPI set to tee up tomorrow's Bank of England rate decision    We've seen a lacklustre start to the week for markets in Europe, as well as the US as disappointment over a weak China stimulus plan, gave investors the excuse to start taking some profits after the gains of recent weeks. Weakness in energy prices also reinforced doubts about the sustainability of the global economy as we head towards the second half of this year.   As we look towards today's European open the main focus is on the latest UK inflation numbers for May ahead of tomorrow's Bank of England rate decision.   Today's UK CPI numbers could make tomorrow's rate decision a much less complicated decision than it might be, especially if the numbers show a clear direction of travel when it comes to a slowing of price pressures. Nonetheless, whatever today's inflation numbers are, we still expect to see a 25bps rate hike tomorrow, however what we won't want to see is another upside surprise given recent volatility in short term gilt yields.   When the April inflation numbers were released, there was a widespread expectation that headline inflation would fall back sharply below 10% and to the lowest levels since March last year. That did indeed happen, although not by as much as markets had expected, falling to 8.7%.       It was also encouraging to see PPI input and output prices slow more than expected in April on an annual basis, to 3.9% and 5.4% respectively.   Unfortunately, this is where the good news ended as while we saw inflation fall back in April it wasn't as deep a fall as expected with many hoping that we'd see headline inflation slow to 8.2%. The month-on-month figure was much hotter than expected at 1.2% and core prices surged from 6.2% to 6.8%, and the highest level since 1990.   The areas where inflation is still looking hot is around grocery prices which saw an annual rise of 19.1%, only modestly lower than the 19.2% in March, while services inflation in hotels and restaurants slowed from 11.3% to 10.2%. Since then, food price inflation has slowed to levels of around 16.5%, still very high, while today's headline number is forecast to slow to 8.5%. More worryingly core prices aren't expected to change at all, remaining at 6.8%, however if we are to look for crumbs of comfort then we should be looking at PPI where in China and Germany we are in deflation.   Given that this tends to be more forward-looking we could find that by Q3 headline CPI could fall quite sharply. Both PPI input and output prices are expected to both decline on a month-on-month basis, while year on year input prices are expected to rise by 1.1%.   In the afternoon, market attention will shift to Washington DC and today's testimony by Fed chair Jerome Powell to US lawmakers in the wake of last week's decision to hold rates at their current levels, while issuing rather hawkish guidance that they expect to hike rates by another 50bps by year end.   This was a little surprising given that inflation appears to be a problem that could be subsiding. Powell is likely to also face further questions from his nemesis Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren who is likely to further press the Federal Reserve Chairman on the costs that further rate hikes might have in terms of higher unemployment.   Her dislike for Powell is well documented calling him a "dangerous man", however despite these comments her fears of higher unemployment haven't materialised despite 500bps of rate hikes in the past 15 months.   We could also get further insights into last week's discussions with a raft of Fed speakers from the likes of Christopher Waller, Michelle Bowman, James Bullard and Loretta Mester this week.          EUR/USD – currently holding above the 50-day SMA at 1.0870/80 which should act as support. We still remain on course for a move towards the April highs at the 1.1095 area, while above 1.0850.     GBP/USD – slipped back from 1.2845/50 area sliding below 1.2750 with the next support at the 1.2680 area. Still on course for a move towards the 1.3000 area, while above the 50-day SMA currently at 1.2510.      EUR/GBP – found support at the 0.8515/20 area with resistance at the 0.8580 level. While below the 0.8620 area bias remains for a move toward the 0.8470/80 area.     USD/JPY – slipped back from just below the next resistance at 142.50 which is 61.8% retracement of the 151.95/127.20 down move. Above 142.50 targets the 145.00 area. Support now comes in at 140.20/30.      FTSE100 is expected to open 4 points higher at 7,573     DAX is expected to open 42 points higher at 16,153     CAC40 is expected to open 3 points higher at 7,297     By Michael Hewson (Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets UK)
Navigating Quarter End: Europe Aims for a Higher Start as Markets Show Resilience amid Geopolitical Concerns

Navigating Quarter End: Europe Aims for a Higher Start as Markets Show Resilience amid Geopolitical Concerns

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 27.06.2023 10:43
Higher start expected for Europe as we drift towards quarter end    Despite weekend events in Russia, European markets proved to themselves to be reasonably resilient yesterday, finishing the day mixed even as the DAX and FTSE100 sank to multi week lows before recovering.     US markets didn't fare much better with the Nasdaq 100 sliding sharply, while the Russell 2000 finished the day higher. While equity markets struggled to make gains there wasn't any sign of an obvious move into traditional haven assets which would indicate that investors had significant concerns about what might come next.     If anything, given how events have played out over the last few years, and the challenges that have faced global investors, the view appears to be let's worry about what comes next when and if it happens, rather than worrying about what might happen in what is becoming an increasingly fluid geopolitical situation.   Bond markets appeared sanguine, as did bullion markets with gold finishing modestly higher, while the US dollar finished the day slightly lower, ahead of the start of this week's ECB central bank forum in Sintra, Portugal which starts today.     Oil prices found themselves edging higher yesterday, largely due to uncertainty over the weekend events in Russia given its position as a key oil and gas producer.   The prospect that we might see supply disruptions if the geopolitical situation deteriorates further may have prompted some precautionary buying. While the crisis appears to have passed quickly the fact that it happened at all has been a bit of a wakeup call and raised some concerns about future long term political stability inside Russia.     One other reason for the so far muted reaction to recent events is that we are coming to the end of the month as well as the first half of the year, with investors indulging in portfolio tweaking rather than any significant shift in asset allocation.   With H2 fast approaching the key decisions are likely to involve determining how many more rate rise decisions are likely to come our way, and whether we can avoid the prospect of a recession in the US.   As far as the UK is concerned it's going to be difficult to see how we can avoid one, having just about avoided the prospect at the end of last year, while the EU is already in one. The US continues to stand out, although even here there is evidence that the economy is starting to slow.     On the data front there isn't much in the way of numbers before the back end of the week and various inflation numbers from Germany, France and the EU, as well as the US. Today we have the latest US durable goods numbers for May, as well as housing data for April and May, which are expected to show signs of softening, and consumer confidence numbers for June. Consumer confidence has been one area which has proved to be the most resilient edging up in May to 102.3. This is expected to continue in June to 103.90, in a trend that appears to be matching the resilience of the labour market.     EUR/USD – not much in the way of price movement yesterday, with resistance back at last week's high just above the 1.1000 level, with the main resistance at the April highs at 1.1095. This remains the next target while above the 50-day SMA at 1.0870/80 which is acting as support. Below 1.0850 signals a move towards 1.0780.     GBP/USD – quiet session yesterday but still holding above the lows of last week, and support at the 1.2680/90 area. Below 1.2670 could see a move towards the 50-day SMA. Still on course for a move towards the 1.3000 area but needs to clear 1.2850.      EUR/GBP – struggling for momentum currently having failed at the 0.8630/40 area last week. The main support is at last week's low at the 0.8515/20 area. A move through 0.8640 could see a move towards 0.8680. While below the 0.8630 area the bias remains for a return to the recent lows.     USD/JPY – while above the 142.50 area, the risk is for a move towards 145.00. This support area which was the 61.8% retracement of the 151.95/127.20 down move, needs to hold or risk a return to the 140.20/30 area. as it looks to close in on the 145.00 area. This now becomes support, with further support at 140.20/30.      FTSE100 is expected to open 22 points higher at 7,475     DAX is expected to open 30 points higher at 15,843     CAC40 is expected to open 20 points higher at 7,204
Turbulent Times Ahead: ECB's Tough Decision Amid Soaring Oil Prices

Inflation Numbers Take Center Stage as Quarter Comes to a Close

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 30.06.2023 09:50
Inflation numbers a key focus as we round off the quarter       European markets continued their recent patchy performance, as we come to the end of the week, month, quarter, and half year, with the FTSE100 sliding back while the likes of the DAX and CAC40 were slightly more resilient, after German inflation came in slightly higher than expected in June.   US markets were slightly more positive, but even here the Nasdaq 100 struggled after a sizeable upward revision to Q1 GDP to 2%, and better than expected weekly jobless claims numbers sent US yields sharply higher to their highest levels since March, while the US dollar also hit a 2-week high.   The surprising resilience of US economic data this week has made it an absolute certainty that we will see another rate increase in July, but also raised the possibility that we might see another 2 more rate increases after that.   The resilience of the labour market, along with the fact that core inflation remains sticky also means that it makes the Federal Reserve's job of timing another pause much more difficult to time. Today's core PCE Deflator and personal spending numbers for May could go some way to making that job somewhat easier.   Core PCE Deflator is forecast to remain unchanged at 4.7%, while personal spending is expected to slow from 0.8% to 0.2%. While the Federal Reserve isn't the only central bank facing a sticky inflation problem, there is evidence that it is having slightly more success in dealing with it, unlike the European Central Bank which is seeing much more elevated levels of headline and core prices. Yesterday, we saw CPI in Germany edge higher from 6.3% in May to 6.8%, while in Spain core prices rose more than expected by 5.9%, even as headline CPI fell below 2% for the first time in over 2 years.   Today's French CPI numbers are expected to show similar slowdowns on the headline rate, from 5.1% to 4.6%, but it is on the core measure that the ECB is increasingly focussing its attention. Today's EU flash CPI for June is forecast to see a fall to 5.6% from 6.1%, however core prices are expected to edge back up to 5.5% after dropping to 5.3% in May. Compounding the ECB's and other central banks dilemma when it comes to raising rates is that PPI price pressures are falling like a stone and have been since the start of the year, in Germany and Italy. In April French PPI plunged -5.1% on a monthly basis, even as the year-on-year rate slowed to 7% from 12.8%.   If this trend continues today then it might suggest that a wave of deflation is heading our way and could hit sometime towards the end of the year, however while core prices remain so resilient central banks are faced with the problem of having to look in two different directions, while at the same time managing a soft landing. The Bank of England has an even bigger problem in getting inflation back to target, although it really only has itself to blame for that, having consistently ignored regular warnings over the past 18 months that it was behind the curve. The risk now is over tightening just as prices start to fall sharply.   Today's Q1 GDP numbers are set to confirm that the UK economy managed to avoid a contraction after posting Q1 growth of 0.1%, although it was a little touch and go after a disappointing economic performance in March, which saw a monthly contraction of -0.3% which acted as a drag on the quarter overall.   The reason for the poor performance in March was due to various public sector strike action from healthcare and transport, which weighed heavily on the services sector which saw a contraction of -0.5%. The performance would have been worse but for a significant rebound in construction and manufacturing activity which saw strong rebounds of 0.7%.   There is a risk that this modest expansion could get revised away this morning, however recent PMI numbers have shown that, despite rising costs, business is holding up, even if economic confidence remains quite fragile.     One thing we do know is that with the recent increase in gilt yields is that the second half of this year is likely to be even more challenging than the first half, and that the UK will do well to avoid a recession over the next two quarters.       EUR/USD – slid back towards and below the 50-day SMA, with a break below the 1.0850 area, potentially opening up a move towards 1.0780. Still have resistance just above the 1.1000 area.     GBP/USD – continues to come under pressure as we slip towards the 50-day SMA at 1.2540. If this holds, the bias remains for a move back to the 1.3000 area. Currently have resistance at 1.2770.       EUR/GBP – currently being capped by resistance at the 50-day SMA at 0.8673, which is the next resistance area. Behind that we have 0.8720. Support comes in at the 0.8580 area.     USD/JPY – briefly pushed above 145.00 with the November highs of 147.50 beyond that.  Support remains at the 142.50 area, which was the 61.8% retracement of the 151.95/127.20 down move. A fall below this support area could see a deeper fall towards 140.20/30.    FTSE100 is expected to open 18 points higher at 7,489     DAX is expected to open 12 points higher at 15,958   CAC40 is expected to open 8 points higher at 7,320      
Recent Economic Developments and Upcoming Events in the UK, EU, Eurozone, and US

Equity Markets: Reflecting on the First Half and Looking Ahead to the Second

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 03.07.2023 09:20
The last six months have been an eventful one for equity markets in general with many of the questions that we were faced with at the start of the year, still just as relevant now.   The main question was whether the rebound that started from the lows back in October was simply part of a bear market rally, or whether it was the beginning of a move towards new record highs.   Others included how many more rate hikes could we expect to see, and when would rates start to come down again, with markets pricing in rate cuts in the second part of 2023.   We got the answer to the main question with new record highs for the FTSE100, CAC 40 and the DAX, while US markets also managed to continue their strong performance, breaking out of their own downtrend from their 2021 peaks, during February, shrugging off a March wobble in the process.   Despite the records highs being set by European markets in the first half of this year, one index above all the others has disappointed, that being the FTSE100, which managed to get off to a flier in the early part of the year, hitting a record high above 8,000, before sinking to a six-month low in the space of 4 weeks. Of all the major indices its greater weighting towards banks, and commodities has seen it underperform, largely due to the weakness of the rebound in the Chinese economy, and the fall in oil and gas prices.   The FTSE100 aside, what has been surprising is that, aside from a couple of exceptions, the stock market gains of the last few months have given few signs of disappearing despite interest rates that are significantly higher than they were at the start of the year, with little sign that they will come down any time soon.   That fact alone is a significant shift from where we were at the start of the year, where we had bond markets pricing in rate cuts as soon as Q3 of this year. This always came across as wishful thinking on the markets part, however we've shifted to the other side of the spectrum of market pricing in the prospect of another 100bps of rate hikes by the Bank of England by the end of the year.   In the same way that rate cuts by year end proved to be mispriced, at the start of the year, this pricing by the market could well go the same way.   One thing that has come as a surprise is how resilient equity markets have been in the face of a much sharper rise in 2-year yields from where we were in early January.   What's more there is no sign that central banks are in any mood to slow down their pace of rate hikes, something that is very much reflected in the way 2-year yields have pushed higher this year. US 2-year yields are higher by almost 50bps year to date, UK 2-year gilt yields by an astonishing 169bps, and German 2-year yields by 43bps.   This big jump in UK yields has seen the pound outperform against its peers, rising by 5% against the US dollar, and by as much as 13.5% against the Japanese yen.   While financial markets try to determine how many more rate hikes are coming, the next question is how long they will have to stay at current levels, and what happens when the deflation that is already being seen in the PPI numbers starts to manifest itself in the core inflation numbers.   For now, there is little evidence of that happening with the focus this week more on the continued divergence between manufacturing and the services sector in the form of the PMI numbers, as well as the US payrolls numbers on Friday.     Today's manufacturing PMIs are set to confirm the weak nature of this part of the global economy, with Spain, Italy, France, and Germany PMIs all forecast to slip back to 47.9, 45.3, 45.5, and 41 respectively. UK and US are also expected to remain soft at 46.2 and 46.3 respectively, while the US ISM manufacturing survey, is also forecast to remain below 50, at 47.2, with prices paid at 44.     Markets are already pricing in further rate hikes this month from the Federal Reserve, as well as the ECB, followed by the Bank of England in August, however the bigger question is what comes after these. One suspects we may not see many more after these hikes, however for now markets seem reluctant to come to that conclusion.   That said as we look towards H2 the bigger question is having seen such a positive H1, is there anything left in the tank, to build on those gains over the course of the rest of the year?   A decent Asia session looks set to translate into a positive start for European markets although current unrest in France is likely to prompt questions about economic activity there in the coming weeks.         EUR/USD – finding support at the 1.0830/40 area and 50-day SMA for now, with resistance remaining at the 1.1000 area. A break below the lows last week opens the way for a potential move towards 1.0780.     GBP/USD – still holding above the 50-day SMA at 1.2540, as well as trend line support from the March lows. If this holds, the bias remains for a move back to the 1.3000 area. Currently have resistance at 1.2770.       EUR/GBP – capped last week just below resistance at the 50-day SMA which is now at 0.8663. Behind that we have 0.8720. Support comes in at the 0.8570/80 area.     USD/JPY – saw a key reversal day after popping above 145.00 last week. We currently have support at the 143.80 area, with a break below targeting the 142.50 area. Above 145.20 opens up 147.50.      FTSE100 is expected to open 32 points higher at 7,563     DAX is expected to open 50 points higher at 16,198     CAC40 is expected to open 30 points higher at 7,430
Inflation Outlook and Rate Hikes: Assessing the Impact on UK Economy and Consumers

Inflation Outlook and Rate Hikes: Assessing the Impact on UK Economy and Consumers

ING Economics ING Economics 06.07.2023 13:32
Inflation data should look a bit better by the autumn Whether or not the Bank ends up delivering the five extra rate hikes priced into markets heavily depends on whether the inflation numbers show some improvement over the summer. At the headline level they should, though mainly because a 20% cut in household energy bills this month will shave off roughly one percentage point from annual CPI. In theory, this matters little, but policymakers have put a lot of store in inflation expectations surveys over the past year or so, and the fall in electricity, gas and petrol prices has helped drive these down among consumers and businesses alike. Indeed the plunge in natural gas prices should start to show through in lower services inflation, albeit gradually. By November’s meeting, we think there will be sufficient evidence for the Bank to finally end its hiking cycle. Ultimately most – though not all – of the UK’s inflation drivers are shared with other developed market economies. Either way, Bank Rate close to 6% is very restrictive by historical standards. Higher loan-to-income multiples mean that mortgage repayments are now equivalent to roughly 35% of average disposable income. That’s a bigger share than when rates peaked ahead of the global financial crisis. Admittedly most mortgages are fixed for at least two years, which means most households are yet to encounter higher repayments. That means a recession isn’t inevitable, but we will see an ever-increasing drag on the UK consumer. The bigger risk in the short-term arguably comes from corporates (particularly small firms), which are typically on floating interest rates and are feeling the squeeze most acutely right now.  
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UK Gilt Yields in Focus as Wages Data Awaited, European Markets Gain

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 11.07.2023 08:32
UK gilt yields in focus, ahead of latest wages data By Michael Hewson (Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets UK)     European markets managed to procure a second successive day of gains yesterday, despite a slide in Asia markets, after Chinese inflation slipped further towards deflation. The FTSE100 also managed to eke out a daily gain for the first time this month bringing an end to a sequence of 5 successive daily losses.     US markets also underwent a cautious start to the week with attention focussed on this week's inflation numbers, which are due tomorrow and could go some way to indicating whether we see any more rate hikes beyond this month.   While last week's losses were largely predicated on concerns that central banks were gearing up for multiple rate rises in the coming months, the data out of China appears to suggest that the bigger danger in the coming months might be deflation. Today's final Germany inflation numbers are expected to confirm that June CPI rose to 6.8% from 6.3% in May, although most of that rise appears to have been attributed to one-off factors that won't be repeated in the coming months, after temporary reductions in rail fares were reversed.     The pound had a slightly softer tone yesterday after a private sector survey showed that wage growth is starting to slow along with the pace of hiring in June. There has been little evidence of this trend in any other recent data, although with the latest ONS numbers due today there is more of a lag.     Just over a month ago the April UK wages numbers reinforced the challenge facing the Bank of England, after wage growth surged to 7.2%, and a record high outside of the pandemic, prompting a surge in UK 2-year gilt yields which took them above their October peaks of last year in the wake of the ill-fated Kwarteng budget.     The surge in the last few months wages has served to highlight the abject policy failure of the Bank of England to act early enough, as workers already being squeezed on all sides agitate for bigger pay rises in order to close the real wages gap. Today's May wages data is unlikely to see much evidence of a weakening in these upward pressures with expectations of 7.1% for the 3-months to May.       Short term yields have continued to rise in anticipation of further rate rises in the coming months, although we have seen a pullback in the last couple of days, from 15-year highs in UK 2-year yields. If today's wage numbers continue to look sticky, the central bank may find it has no good options when it comes to getting prices under control.     The number of people in employment also rose to a record 76% as high food inflation forced people back into work, forcing the unemployment rate down to 3.8%, where it looks set to stay this month. It's also important to note that the wages numbers are average numbers which means in a lot of cases, pay rises are much higher in certain areas of the economy, trending at between 10% to 20%. This trend may slow in the coming months; however, it is unlikely to slow rapidly even as headline inflation starts to come down rapidly after July.     Later on, this morning, the July German ZEW survey is expected to show a further deterioration in expectations sentiment to -10.6 down from -8.5, with the current situation expected to fall to -62, from -56.5.               EUR/USD – We need to see a move above the June highs at 1.1010/15 to target a move towards 1.1100, and the highs this year. A break below the lows last week at 1.0830, opens the way for a potential move towards 1.0780.     GBP/USD – fell back to 1.2750 yesterday, before making new 14-month highs nudging above the June highs, as we continue to look for a move towards the 1.3000 area. Main support at 1.2680 area.       EUR/GBP – tested up to the 0.8570/80 area yesterday before slipping back. Still have support at the 0.8515/20 area and June lows. We also have resistance at the 50-day SMA which is now at 0.8630. Below 0.8500 targets 0.8460.     USD/JPY – continues to look soft falling below 142.00 with the risk of further losses towards the 139.80 area. Last weeks' weekly reversal suggests that a short-term top might be in. We need to see a move back above 142.80 to stabilise and argue for a return to 144.00.     FTSE100 is expected to open unchanged at 7,274     DAX is expected to open 45 points higher at 15,718     CAC40 is expected to open 18 points higher at 7,162
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FX Update: US Dollar Consolidates as ECB Dovish Comments Impact EURUSD, UK Inflation Eases, Sterling Faces Challenge

Ipek Ozkardeskaya Ipek Ozkardeskaya 19.07.2023 09:54
In the FX   The US dollar index consolidates at the lowest levels since April 2022, as the oversold market conditions certainly encourage short-term traders to pause and take a breather. Also helping are some dovish comments from European Central Bank's (ECB) Knot yesterday, who said that monetary tightening beyond next week's meeting is not guaranteed, while at least two 25bp hikes were seen as almost a done deal by markets until yesterday. Ignazio Visco also hinted that inflation could ease more quickly than the ECB's latest projections. So the comments sent the German 2-year yield to a 3-week low. The EURUSD bounced lower after hitting 1.1275, and rising dovish voiced from the ECB could keep the EURUSD within the 1.10/1.12 range into the next policy decision.   Across the Channel, inflation numbers freshly came in this morning, revealing that inflation in Britain eased to 7.9% in June versus 8.2% expected by analysts and 8.7% printed a month earlier. Core inflation on the other hand fell below the 7% mark last month. Cable slipped below 1.30 as a kneejerk reaction as softer inflation tempered Bank of England (BoE) hawks. But even with a softer-than-expected figure, inflation in Britain remains high and stickier than in other Western economies, and that keeps odds for further BoE action sensibly more hawkish than for other major central banks. The BoE raised its policy rate to 5% at its latest meeting, and is expected to continue toward 6.5 to 7% range in the next few months. If inflation slows, the peak rate will be pulled to 6-6.5% range, but not lower. And rising rates, that weigh on mortgages in Britain where Brits must renew mortgages every 2-5 years, pressure housing market and fuels the worst living crisis in decades, combined with political shakes into next year's elections are all factors that could stall the rally in sterling against major peers. Cable benefited from a broad-based weakness in the US dollar since last September dip, but gaining field above the 1.30 mark could prove difficult.    
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Yen Moves Higher as Bank of Japan Considers Yield Curve Control Tweak

ING Economics ING Economics 28.07.2023 08:37
Yen moves higher as Bank of Japan tweaks YCC By Michael Hewson (Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets UK) European markets saw a strong session yesterday, buoyed by the belief that the central banks could be done when it comes to further rate hikes, after the ECB followed the Fed by raising rates by 25bps and then suggesting that a pause might be on the table when they next meet in September. The mood was also helped by a strong set of US economic numbers which pointed to a goldilocks scenario for the US economy.     US markets also opened strongly with the S&P500 pushing above the 4,600 level and its highest level since March 2022, before retreating and closing sharply lower, with the Dow closing lower, breaking a run of 13 days of gains. Sentiment abruptly changed during the US session on reports that the Bank of Japan might look at a possible "tweak" to its yield curve control policy at its latest policy meeting earlier this morning.     This report, coming only hours before today's scheduled meeting, caught markets on the hop somewhat pushing the Japanese yen higher against the US dollar, while pushing US 10-year yields back above 4%. With Japanese core inflation above 4% there was always the possibility that the Bank of Japan might spring a surprise, or at least lay the groundwork for a possible tweak. The Bank of Japan has form for when it comes to wrong footing the market, and so it has proved, as at today's meeting they announced that they would allow the upper limit on the 10-year yield to move from 0.5% to 1%. They would do this by offering to purchase JGBs at 1% every day through fixed rate operations, effectively raising the current cap by 50bps, and sending the yen sharply higher. The central bank also raised its 2023 inflation forecast to 2.5% from 1.8%, while nudging its 2024 forecast lower to 1.9%.     As far as today's price action is concerned, the late decline in the US looks set to translate into a weaker European open, even though confidence is growing that the Fed is more or less done when it comes to its rate hiking cycle. Nonetheless, investors will be looking for further evidence of this with the latest core PCE deflator, as well as personal spending and income data for June, later this afternoon to support the idea of weaker inflation. Anything other than a PCE Core Deflator slowdown to 4.2% from 4.6%, could keep the prospect of a 25bps September hike on the table for a few weeks more. Both personal spending and income data are expected to improve to 0.4% and 0.5% respectively.     We're also expecting a tidal wave of European GDP and inflation numbers, which are expected to confirm a weaker economic performance than was the case in Q1, starting with France Q2 GDP which is expected to slow to 0.1% from 0.2%. The Spanish economy is also expected to slow from 0.6% to 0.4% in Q2. On the inflation front we'll be getting an early look at the latest inflation numbers for June from France and Germany as well as PPI numbers for Italy. France flash CPI for June is expected to slow to 5.1% from 5.3%, while Germany CPI is expected to slow to 6.6% from 6.8%. With PPI inflation acting as a leading indicator for weaker inflation for all of this year the latest Italy PPI numbers will be scrutinised for further weakness in the wake of a decline of -3.1% in May on a month-on-month basis and a -6.8% decline on a year-on-year basis.       EUR/USD – failed to follow through above the 1.1120 area, subsequently slipping back, falling below the 1.1000 area, which could see a retest of the 1.0850 area which is the lows of the last 2 weeks. Below 1.0850 targets a move back to the June lows at 1.0660.   GBP/USD – slipped back from the 1.3000 area, falling back below the Monday lows with the risk we could retest the 50-day SMA and trend line support at the 1.2710. While above this key support the uptrend from the March lows remains intact.       EUR/GBP – struggling to rally, with resistance at the 0.8600 area, and support at the recent lows at 0.8500/10. Above the 0.8600 area targets the highs last week at 0.8700/10.   USD/JPY – while below the 142.00 area, the bias remains for a move lower, with the move below 139.70 targeting a potential move towards the 200-day SMA at 137.20.   FTSE100 is expected to open 24 points lower at 7,668   DAX is expected to open 38 points lower at 16,368   CAC40 is expected to open 20 points lower at 7,445
Manning the Renminbi Barricade: Navigating FX Markets Amid Chinese Defenses

Europe Braces for Lower Open After Strong US Session; China Trade Data Disappoints

Michael Hewson Michael Hewson 08.08.2023 08:43
Europe set for lower open after strong US session, China trade disappoints   By Michael Hewson (Chief Market Analyst at CMC Markets UK)   It was a rather subdued start to the trading week in Europe yesterday with little in the way of positive drivers although we managed to hold on most of the rebound that we saw on Friday in the wake of the July jobs report out of the US. US markets on the other hand enjoyed a much more robust start to the week, ending a 4-day decline and reversing the losses of the previous two sessions, as bargain hunters returned.   The focus this week is on Thursday's inflation numbers from the US, which could show that prices edged up in July, however it is the numbers out of China tomorrow which might be more instructive in respect of longer-term trends for prices, if headline CPI follows the PPI numbers into deflation.       Earlier this morning the latest China trade numbers for July continued to point to weak economic activity and subdued domestic demand. The last 2 months of Q2 saw sharp declines in exports, with a -12.4% fall in June. There was little let-up in this morning's July numbers with a bigger than expected decline of -14.5%, the worst performance since February 2020, with global demand remaining weak. Imports have been little better, with negative numbers every month this year, and July has been no different with a decline of -12.4%, an even worse performance from June's -6.8%, with all sectors of the economy showing weakness. With numbers this poor it surely can't be too long before Chinese policymakers take further steps to support their economy with further easing measures, however, there appears to be some reluctance to do so at any scale for the moment, due to concerns over capital outflows.     Today's European market open was set to be a modestly positive one, until the release of the China trade numbers, however we now look set for a slightly lower open, with the only data of note the final German CPI numbers for July which are set to show that headline inflation slowed modestly to 6.5% from 6.8% in June.   It's also set to be another important week for the pound ahead of Q2 GDP numberswhich are due on Friday. Before that we got a decent insight into UK retail sales spending earlier this morning with the release of two important insights into consumer behaviour in July.   The BRC retail sales numbers for July showed that like for like sales slowed during the month, rising 1.8%, well below the 3-month average of 3.3%. Food sales performed particularly well, but at the expense of online sales of non-food items like clothes which showed a sharp slowdown.     It is clear that consumers are spending their money much more carefully and spending only when necessary, as Bank of England rate hikes continue to bite on incomes. With some consumers approaching a cliff edge as their fixed rate terms come up for expiry, they may well be saving more in order to mitigate the impact of an impending sharp rise in mortgage costs. That said in a separate survey from Barclaycard, spending on entertainment saw a big boost of 15.8% even as clothing sales declined.     Bars, pubs, and clubs saw a pickup in spending as did the entertainment sector as Taylor Swift did for July, what Beyonce did for May. The release of a big slate of summer films may also have offered a boost with the latest Indiana Jones film, along with Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning, Barbie and Oppenheimer prompting people to venture out given the wetter weather during the month.       EUR/USD – not much in the way of price action yesterday although the euro managed to hold onto most of the rally off last week's lows just above the 1.0900 area. We currently have resistance at the 1.1050 area which we need to break to have any chance of revisiting the July peaks at 1.1150.     GBP/USD – another solid day yesterday after the rebound off the 1.2620 area last week. We need to see a move back above the 1.2800 area to ensure this rally has legs. Below 1.2600 targets 1.2400. Resistance at the 1.2830 area as well as 1.3000.         EUR/GBP – struggling to rally beyond the 0.8650 area but we need to see a move below the 0.8580 area to signal a short-term top might be in and see a return to the 0.8530 area. Also have resistance at the 100-day SMA at 0.8680.     USD/JPY – failed just below the 144.00 area last week but has rebounded from the 141.50 area. While below the 144.00 area the risk is for a move towards the 140.70 area. Main resistance remains at the previous peaks at 145.00.       FTSE100 is expected to open 8 points lower at 7,546     DAX is expected to open 16 points lower at 15,936     CAC40 is expected to open unchanged at 7,319      
Argentine Peso Devaluation: Political Uncertainty Amplifies Economic Challenges

Dollar's Strength: A Consequence of Limited Alternatives

ING Economics ING Economics 11.08.2023 10:44
FX Daily: Dollar benefits from a lack of alternatives The US remains on an encouraging disinflation track, but the dollar is not turning lower. This is, in our view, due to a lack of attractive alternatives given warning growth signals in other parts of the world (such as the eurozone and China). Evidence of a US economic slowdown is needed to bring USD substantially lower.   USD: Disinflation not enough for the bears July’s US inflation numbers released yesterday were largely in line with expectations, reassuring markets that there are no setbacks in the disinflationary process for now. Core inflation inched lower from 4.8% to 4.7%, while the headline rate suffered a rebound (from 3.0% to 3.2%) due to a reduced base effect compared to previous months, which was still smaller than the consensus of 3.3%. With the exception of resilience in housing prices, price pressures clearly abated across all components. All in all, the US report offered reasons for the Fed and for risk assets to cheer, as the chance of another rate hike declined further. Equities rallied and the US yield curve re-steepened: the dollar should have dropped across the board in this scenario. However, the post-CPI picture in FX was actually more mixed. This was a testament to how currencies are not uniquely driven by US news at the moment. The Japanese yen drop was not a surprise, given abating bond and FX volatility, equity outperformance and carry-trade revamp, but FX markets seemed lightly impacted by CPI figures and the subsequent risk-on environment, as many high-beta currencies failed to hang on to gains. From a dollar point of view, we think the recent price action denotes a reluctance to rotate away from the greenback given the emergence of concerning stories in other parts of the world. This is not to say that the activity outlook in the US is particularly bright – jobless claims touched a one-month high yesterday, and the outlook remains very vulnerable to deteriorated credit dynamics – but if economic slowdown alarms are flashing yellow in Washington, they are flashing amber in Frankfurt and Beijing. Chinese real estate developer Garden reported a record net loss of up to $7.6bn during the first half of the year yesterday, at a time when China’s officials are trying to calm investors’ nerves about another potential property crisis. Back to the US, PPI and the University of Michigan inflation expectation figures out today will clarify how far the disinflation story has gone in July, but we still sense a substantial dollar decline is not on the cards for the moment, or at least until compelling evidence of slowing US activity makes the prospect of Fed cuts less remote. DXY may consolidate above 102.00 over the next few days.
ECB Meeting Uncertainty: Rate Hike or Pause, Market Positions Reflect Tension

Global Market Insights: ECB Meeting, US Retail Sales, and Australia's Labor Report on the Radar

ING Economics ING Economics 14.09.2023 08:05
Asia Morning Bites Australia's labour market report is due out soon. Later today, the ECB meeting and US retail sales numbers should give investors more to ponder after yesterday's upside inflation misses.   Global Macro and Markets Global markets: We will start with Treasury yields today since they were most at risk from an upside miss to the inflation numbers, which we got on both the core and headline measures yesterday. But, contrary to everything you thought you knew about how markets worked, yields fell. The 2Y yield dropped by 5.1bp to 4.969%, and the 10Y yield fell by 3.2bp to 4.248%. Those declines in yield have had no impact on major FX rates. EURUSD remains roughly unchanged at about 1.0733 ahead of the ECB decision today, which still hangs in the balance. The AUD is also more or less unchanged at 0.6423, though it did have a look at sub-64 cent levels at one stage yesterday before recovering. Sterling is also about the same at 1.2491, though the JPY continued to nose higher and is now 147.28. In Asian FX, the main standout is the CNY, which is now down to 7.2717, in contrast to expectations for it to push above 7.35 which looked more likely only a few days ago. The PBoC is now using higher CNY funding costs in its battle to prop up the yuan, and right now, it seems to be working. Our end-of-month and quarter 7.25 forecast no longer looks quite so silly. This could change very rapidly though, and we have the China data dump tomorrow, though we are half-expecting this to be a little less negative than some of the recent data releases. The TWD was dragged stronger by the CNY, as was the SGD. SE Asian FX tended to lose ground yesterday, and the THB propped up the bottom of the table declining 0.34%. G-7 macro: The US CPI inflation release for August saw upside misses on both the headline inflation rate (3.7%YoY, up from 3.2%, and 3.6% expected) and the month-on-month figure for the core rate ex-food and energy, which rose 0.3% against expectations for a 0.2% rise. That still left core inflation falling to 4.3% which was in line with expectations, but progress in reducing core inflation will only be assisted by base effects for so long before it too will need to see the monthly rate need to drop to 0.1-0.2 to deliver a 2% target rate. James Knightley adds more detail in this note. It is also the ECB meeting today, and while we are looking for one, final rate hike, the market is totally split, and this decision could almost as easily result in no change. Our FX and rates strategists have put this cheat sheet together to highlight the potential market scenarios depending on what the ECB does, and more importantly, how it delivers its decision. We also get the August retail sales numbers for the US out today. The consensus expectation for the headline figure is 0.1%MoM, down from 0.7%MoM in July. We are beginning to see delinquencies on credit cards rising (as well as student loans and mortgages), and the latest consumer credit figures were also softer, so a bit more evidence of a consumer slowdown would vindicate the markets’ move to ignore the inflation figures overnight. The control group of spending is expected to decline 0.1% MoM after its 1.0% rise in July. US PPI data for August and weekly jobless claims round out the day. Australia:  August’s labour report remains an important piece of data while there remains some lingering doubt about whether or not the Reserve Bank of Australia has already delivered peak cash rates, or, as we suspect, maybe has one last hike left in the chamber to deliver before we can declare “job done”. And as ever, the outcome of this report is virtually impossible to call. We tentatively expect some unwinding of recent moves, with some modest job creation in the full-time segment, though this may be offset by some part-time employment declines, to deliver a +15K overall employment gain. This is a bit lower than the consensus +25K call. We are, however, in agreement that this will result in a drop back of the unemployment rate to 3.6% after the jump to 3.7% last month. What to look out for: ECB meeting and US retail sales Japan core machine orders and industrial production (14 September) Australia unemployment (14 September) ECB policy meeting (14 September) US initial jobless claims, PPI and retail sales (14 September) China medium term lending rate (15 September) Indonesia trade balance (15 September) China retail sales, industrial production (15 September) US University of Michigan sentiment (15 September)
EUR: Core Inflation Disappoints, ECB's Caution and Market Reactions

Inflation Challenges: US CPI Disappoints, Diminishing Odds of Early Fed Rate Cut

ING Economics ING Economics 16.01.2024 11:28
Sticky US inflation reduces chances of an early Fed rate cut In the wake of the Federal Reserve's dovish shift in December, financial markets had moved to price an interest rate cut as soon as March. However, the tight jobs market and today's firmer-than-expected inflation numbers suggest this is unlikely, barring an economic or financial system shock. We continue to think the Fed will prefer to wait until May.   CPI comes in above expectations December US CPI has come in at 0.3% month-on-month/3.4%year-on-year and core 0.3%/3.9% versus the 0.2/3.2% expectation for headline and 0.3/3.8% for core. So, it is a little disappointing, but not a huge miss. Meanwhile, initial jobless claims and continuing claims both came in lower than expected with continuing claims dropping to 1834k from 1868k – the lowest since late October. The combination of the two – slightly firmer inflation and good jobs numbers really brings into doubt the market expectation of a March rate cut from the Federal Reserve. We continue to see May as the most likely start point.   Core CPI measured in MoM, 3M annualised and YoY terms   This means that the annual rate of headline inflation has actually risen to 3.4% from 3.1% in November while the core rate (ex food and energy) has only fallen a tenth of a percentage point, so we appear to have plateaued after a strong disinflationary trend through the first nine months of 2023. The details show housing remains firm, with the key rent components continuing to post 0.4/0.5% MoM gains while used cars also rose 0.5% and airline fares increased 1% while medical care is also still running pretty hot at 0.6%. Motor vehicle insurance is especially strong, rising another 1.5% MoM, meaning costs are up more than 20%YoY. The so called “super-core” measure (core services CPI ex housing), which the Fed has been emphasising due to it reflecting tightness in the labour market given high wage cost inputs, posted another 0.4% MoM increase. This backdrop remains too hot for the Fed to want to cut rates imminently, especially with the economy likely posting 2-2.5% GDP growth in the fourth quarter of last year and the labour market remaining as tight as it is.   But this is just one measure and the outlook remains encouraging Nonetheless, the CPI report isn’t the only inflation measure the Fed looks at. In fact the preferred measure – the core personal consumer expenditure deflator – has shown much better performance. To get to 2% YoY we need to see the MoM% change averaging 0.17%. 0.31% MoM for core CPI is near enough double what we want to see, but for the core PCE deflator we have seen it come in below 0.17% MoM in five of the past six months. The reasons for the divergence are slight methodological differences in the calculations, with weights for key components such as housing and cars, being very different.   Observed rents still point to a sharp slowdown in housing inflation   Nonetheless, the prospects for consumer price inflation returning to 2% YoY remain good. We have to remember that cars and housing have a 50% weighting within the core CPI basket and we have pretty good visibility for both components. Observed private sector rents point to a clear slowdown in the housing components, while declines in Manheim car auction prices point to used car prices falling outright over the next two months. Also note that the NFIB small business survey showed only 25% of businesses are raising prices right now versus 50% in the fourth quarter of 2022. In fact, the last time we saw fewer businesses raising prices was January 2021. So, while today's report wasn't as good as it could have been, there are still reasons for optimism on sustained lower inflation rates in 2024. We still see a good chance headline and core CPI to be in the 2-2.5% YoY range by late second quarter.

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