Too Much Good News

The stock market took a sharp turn for the worse on economic data that raised the issue the Fed may yet raise interest rates at their next FOMC meeting in June as no less than three Fed President’s look for a rate hike coming up.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for April produced a headline surprise, with total CPI rising 0.4% month-over-month. This may have been a surprise for many but when you have seen crude oil prices surge as much as we’ve seen with the Fed’s central planning, inflation is going to jump as gasoline and everything dependent on it will be affected.

Also, industrial production proved to be a positive surprise as production increased at a faster than expected rate of 0.7%. Most of this is seasonal, as the utilities index spiked 5.8% as demand for electricity and natural gas returned to a more normal level after being suppressed by warmer-than-usual weather in March. Mining is still negative at a -2.3% and manufacturing at 0.3%.

In any case, the stock market didn’t like it after two regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents said Tuesday that the U.S. central bank could raise short-term interest rates at its meeting next month, despite low market expectations for such a move and uncertainty surrounding the referendum on the U.K.’s membership in the European Union.

Let’s not forget this is May and the focus with the Fed has now shifted to supporting the dollar now that income taxes have been collected.

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said it still “makes sense” for the central bank to raise short-term interest rates two or three times this year given continued moderate U.S. economic growth and low unemployment.

I think that the data to my mind are lining up to make a good case for rate increases in the next few meetings, not just June, which means it’s very live in terms of that. “Currently my assumption is two, possibly three.

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