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Stocks Knocked Down With Fed Walking a ‘Tightrope’

Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Stocks Knocked Down With Fed Walking a ‘Tightrope’

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average displayed on a rotating-cube screen in an atrium of the Kabuto One building, next the Tokyo Stock Exchange, in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Japan equities were mixed after the yen slid to a 20-year low versus the dollar as the gap between domestic and US yields widened. Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg
By Bloomberg
13 Jun 2022 0

US stocks hurtled toward a bear market, Treasury yields spiked to levels not seen in a decade and the dollar powered higher as speculation mounted that the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tame runaway inflation will plunge the economy into a recession.

Another brutal bout of equity selling pushed the S&P 500 more than 20% below its January record as bets rose that the Fed will have to raise rates more aggressively after Friday’s hot inflation reading. Highly valued technology shares bore the brunt of the rout, with the Nasdaq 100 slumping over 4%. The Cboe Volatility Index is pricing in more uncertainty in the here-and-now than it is in three months after a rare inversion of the futures curve. Speculative areas of the market inflated by years of Fed and government largesse buckled. Bitcoin plummeted below $24,000 after a lending platform ceased operations.

Credit markets weren’t spared. Treasury 10-year yields climbed to the highest since 2011 while two-year rates jumped to levels last seen before the 2008 crisis. A closely watched part of the bond curve inverted as worries mounted that an aggressively restrictive Fed won’t be able to avoid an economic contraction. A measure of US credit risk surged to the highest since May 2020. Only the dollar provided a respite from the selloff, as the greenback had its biggest four-day rally since the onset of the pandemic.

Financial markets are now bracing for the Fed to turn extremely hawkish after its meeting Wednesday. Traders are now pricing in 175 basis points of tightening by September — implying two half-point and one 75 basis points hike. If that comes to pass, it would be the first time since 1994 the Fed resorted to such an aggressive pace. Fed officials are muzzled before the decision in two days and Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference, where policy makers’ characterization of inflation and long-term forecasts for the fed funds target — the so-called dot plot — will be critical.

Read: Powell Facing Choice Between Elevated US Inflation and Recession

Comments:

  • “It’s going to get a little uglier,” said Victoria Greene, chief investment officer at G Squared Private Wealth. “It’s going to be very hard for stocks to rally when the Fed continues to put hawkish pressure. There’s no way they can slam on the brakes with inflation without slamming on the brakes economically speaking. It’s funny we still have recession deniers.”
  • “The idea that there is some Goldilocks outcome in the cards or soft landing is a mockery,” wrote Danielle DiMartino Booth, chief strategist of Quill Intelligence. “While tightening into a recession is no easy task, the Federal Reserve must indicate a willingness to raise interest rates by more than a half-percentage point at upcoming meetings if inflation continues to surprise to the upside.”
  • “Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues are walking a monetary policy tightrope hoping to avoid a recession while dampening demand,” wrote Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. “This year’s decline in stock prices and rise in bond yields are among the more obvious consequences of the Fed’s actions.”
  • “There has been no follow-through by the bulls,” wrote JC O’Hara, chief market technician at MKM Partners. “Until they have a data point to celebrate, investors will continue to shed risk assets. The largest risk now is that interest-rate expectations are still too low and earnings expectations are still too high.”

Even after this year’s selloff, equities are still not fully reflecting the risks facing corporate earnings and weaker consumer demand, according to strategists at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. US stocks might find it tough to post a meaningful rebound following Friday’s hotter-than-expected inflation print that will put further pressure on the Fed to tighten monetary policy, noted Evercore ISI strategist Julian Emanuel. “What’s been missing the last several months is sort of what I would call a ‘cathartic flush out,’ where you get the VIX above 40, which is one of the things you need for at least a trading bottom,” he said. The gauge traded below 35 on Monday.

What to watch this week:

  • US PPI, Tuesday.
  • China key economic activity data, liquidity operations, medium-term lending facility, Wednesday.
  • FOMC rate decision, Chair Jerome Powell briefing, US business inventories, empire manufacturing, retail sales, Wednesday.
  • ECB President Christine Lagarde due to speak, Wednesday.
  • Bank of England rate decision, Thursday.
  • US housing starts, initial jobless claims, Thursday.
  • Bank of Japan policy decision, Friday.
  • Eurozone CPI, Friday.
  • US Conference Board leading index, industrial production, Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 fell 3.7% as of 11:06 a.m. New York time
  • The Nasdaq 100 fell 4.2%
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.8%
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 2.6%
  • The MSCI World index fell 3.7%

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 1%
  • The euro fell 0.9% to $1.0425
  • The British pound fell 1.4% to $1.2148
  • The Japanese yen rose 0.4% to 133.91 per dollar

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced 16 basis points to 3.32%
  • Germany’s 10-year yield advanced 10 basis points to 1.62%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield advanced six basis points to 2.51%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude fell 2.2% to $117.98 a barrel
  • Gold futures fell 2.6% to $1,826.80 an ounce
Gallery

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