Rising US Producer Inflation May Reduce The Number Of Scheduled Fed Rate Cuts

As of Thursday's stock market close, the Dow Jones Index (US30) was down 0.35%, the S&P 500 Index (US500) decreased by 0.29%, and the NASDAQ Technology Index (US100) closed negative 0.30%.

The US weekly initial jobless claims fell by 1,000 to 209,000, indicating a stronger labor market than expectations of a rise to 218,000. Thursday's US retail sales report for February 0.6% m/m was weaker than market expectations of 0.8%, while the January figure was revised downward to 1.1% m/m from 0.8%. The February PPI reading of 1.6% y/y was stronger than market expectations of 1.2% and exceeded the revised January reading of 1.0% y/y (preliminary 0.9%). However, February core PPI fell to a 2-year low of 3.8% y/y. Either way, February's core CPI and PPI remain above the Fed's 2% inflation target.

After the release of macro statistics, UST yields started to rise, and stock indices were corrected. Investors fear that amid high inflation, the Fed may reduce the number of scheduled rate cuts this year from three to two. So far, this is unlikely, but any hints from Mr. Powell on this trend at the upcoming meeting may trigger the beginning of a correction in the indices.

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) closed 4.12% lower, adding 4.81% to Wednesday's losses. UBS lowered its price target for Tesla on Thursday from $165 to $225 but maintained a neutral rating. The bearish sentiment on TSLA has persisted since Wednesday, when Wells Fargo downgraded Tesla to "underweight" from "equal-weight" due to its view that electric vehicle sales will remain flat in 2024 and decline in 2025.

Equity markets in Europe were mostly down yesterday. Germany's DAX (DE40) was down 0.11%, France's CAC 40 (FR40) added 0.29%, Spain's IBEX 35 (ES35) lost 0.66%, and the UK's FTSE 100 (UK100) closed negative 0.37%.

ECB Governing Council spokesman Stournaras said on Thursday that he favors two interest rate cuts before the ECB's August break and two more before the end of the year. He also said a rate cut in June is more likely than one in April. Swaps estimate the odds of a 25 bps ECB rate cut at 10% at the next meeting on April 11 and 90% at the next meeting on June 6. In Europe today, investors will assess final inflation data in France and Italy.

Oil prices rose because of an IEA report released on Thursday that said oil markets will face a supply shortage by the end of this year due to OPEC+ production cuts. On Thursday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that global oil markets would be in deficit by the end of 2024 if OPEC+ maintained its current production cuts. However, the balance would become a surplus if OPEC+ started pumping more oil. OPEC+ will meet on June 1 to decide on production levels for the second half 2024.

Natural gas prices rose Thursday after the EIA's weekly report showed US gas inventories fell by 9 billion cubic feet, which was higher than market expectations of 2 billion cubic feet. Natural gas prices are also under pressure after the Freeport LNG natural gas export terminal in Texas shut down one of three production units on March 1 due to damage caused by freezing weather in Texas. The unit is scheduled to resume operations this week.

Asian markets were predominantly up yesterday. Japan's Nikkei 225 (JP225) rose by 0.29% on the day, China's FTSE China A50 (CHA50) declined 0.23%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng (HK50) gained 0.71% on Thursday, and Australia's ASX 200 (AU200) was positive 0.20%.

Major Japanese companies have already agreed to meet union demands for wage increases. This raises the possibility that the central bank (BoJ) could exit its negative interest rate policy as early as next week due to rising wages, high inflation, and a stable economy.

Australia's economy grew less than expected in the fourth quarter, supporting bets that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) may start cutting rates this year. Markets currently estimate a 70% probability of the RBA starting to cut the money rate in August, with 40 basis points of easing this year.

The National Bureau of Statistics released Chinese house price data for February for a sample of 70 cities, which showed continued price declines in line with expectations. Average primary market prices fell 0.36% month-over-month, while average secondary market prices fell 0.62% month-over-month. Both figures were similar to the January decline.

  • S&P 500 (US500) 5,150.48 −14.83 (−0.29%)
  • Dow Jones (US30) 38,905.66 −137.66 (−0.35%)
  • DAX (DE40) 17,942.04 −19.34 (−0.11%)
  • FTSE 100 (UK100) 7,743.15 −29.02 (−0.37%)
  • USD Index 103.36 +0.57 (+0.55%)

 

Important events today:

  • – US NY Empire State Manufacturing Index (m/m) at 14:30 (GMT+2);
  • – US Industrial Production (m/m) at 15:15 (GMT+2);
  • – US Michigan Consumer Sentiment (m/m) at 16:00 (GMT+2).

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Disclosure: This article reflects a personal opinion and should not be interpreted as an investment advice, and/or offer, and/or a persistent request for carrying out financial transactions, ...

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