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Stocks Relief Rally Short-Lived as May Hike Eyed: Markets Wrap

Stocks Relief Rally Short-Lived as May Hike Eyed: Markets Wrap
Pedestrians walk past an electronic board displaying stock information inside the Australian Securities Exchange, operated by ASX Ltd., in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday, 10 November 2016. (Photo: David Moir/Bloomberg)

A brief respite for US stocks ended almost as soon as it began after data showed inflation moderated last month, but not enough to forestall the Federal Reserve from raising rates at least one more time this year.

The S&P 500 erased a 0.6% gain while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 slid 0.5%. Policy-sensitive two-year Treasury yields tumbled as much as 15 basis points before paring the drop to trade at 4.00%, while the dollar fell against a basket of all its G-10 peers. Swaps markets showed the odds are still in favor for a Fed rate hike in May while traders amped up bets the central bank will cut later this year.

Read more: Traders Boost Bets on Fed Rate Cuts by Year End After CPI

US consumer prices rose 0.1% in March, just below economists’ forecast of 0.2% and were up 5% from a year earlier. The closely watched core CPI number — which excludes food and energy — increased 0.4%, meeting the median estimate.

Fed officials are juggling the need to curb rampant inflation and stabilize the banking sector. Some of the biggest financial companies in the US are expected to report earnings on Friday.

“The March inflation data confirms that the disinflationary process is intact, but moving very slowly. Core CPI is still running far above target,” said Lauren Goodwin, portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments. “The Fed would have to see a slowdown in core CPI to accept that monetary policy has been tightened far enough. Absent that evidence today, we expect to see another 25 basis point hike in May before the Fed pauses.”

Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi expects markets to swing intraday, the data  not “below expectations in a meaningful way.” She sees Thursday’s producer price data providing added clarity.

“What closes the loop on this inflation data is actually the PPI data,” Young said. “Although CPI has been moderating, which is definitely good news, if PPI remains sticky or slightly higher than expectations, that’s where you see the knock-on effect on corporate margins.”

Here’s what others on Wall Street had to say about the CPI data:

Alexandra Wilson-Elizondo, co-head of portfolio management for multi asset solutions at Goldman Sachs Asset Management

Today’s data release will most likely be perceived as welcome news because headline was marginally light of expectations and core was in-line.”

“The continued strength in the core figure is not consistent with the Federal Reserve’s 2% long-term target and will keep a 25-bps hike on the table for the May meeting. However, the data release does not yet reflect post-banking stress information and the subsequent tightening of credit conditions.”

Jake Jolly, head of investment analysis at BNY Mellon Investment Management

“Ultimately you can really only justify these strong moves in the equity market if you believe that the soft landing probability is increasing materially.”

“It’s a good thing when inflation prints are in line with expectations, it’s much better than an upside surprise. But to me, this is still a very, very strong, inflationary pressures report, so it certainly doesn’t signal the all clear.”

Marija Veitmane, a senior multi-asset strategist at State Street Global Markets

“Last year saw a substantial equity selloff as higher interest rates pushed investors out of expensive stocks. Now we are nearing the end of the hiking cycle (though not there yet) and the market is getting excited about stocks again. We think this is wrong.”

“The hiking cycle will only end when the economy slows substantially – we see no other way for inflation to disappear. And this is not going to be good news for equity investors as a decline in earnings would hurt more than an offsetting rate cut.”

John Leiper, chief investment officer at Titan Asset Management 

“Core inflation remains stubbornly high and an increasingly bullish outlook for energy prices will continue to justify higher for longer. Equities remain expensive and we retain our defensive positioning.”

“You can’t go from a decade of ultra-low interest rates to the fastest rate hike cycle in over 40 years without systemic repercussions, not just to the banking sector but the economy as a whole. We are heading into recession and whether we get an additional rate hike or not, inflation remains an issue, despite today’s number. The writing is already on the wall.”

Guillermo Hernández Sampere, head of trading at MPPM GmbH

“The key core rate has risen slightly, so the inflationary pressure remains high, the Fed will probably continue to raise interest rates but less aggressively because of the incidents in the banking sector. The market sees the peak within reach.”

Joachim Klement, head of strategy, accounting and sustainability at Liberum Capital 

“CPI is good news all round. Not only did energy inflation become materially negative as expected, food inflation stalled and shelter inflation is cooling off. All that indicates that the Fed remains on the right track in bringing inflation down. While core inflation keeps on rising, the main drivers of core inflation in recent months are mostly cooling off, indicating that the Fed may be able to stop hiking rates after the next meeting.”

Elsewhere, Bitcoin resumed its slide dipping below $30,000 after hitting its highest level in 10 months on Tuesday. Oil advanced.

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Key events this week:

  • Richmond Fed’s Thomas Barkin speaks, Wednesday
  • China trade, Thursday
  • US PPI, initial jobless claim, Thursday
  • US retail sales, business inventories, industrial production, University of Michigan consumer sentiment, Friday
  • Major US banks JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup report earnings, Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 fell 0.3% as of 11:12 a.m. New York time
  • The Nasdaq 100 fell 0.7%
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 was little changed
  • The MSCI World index was little changed

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.3%
  • The euro rose 0.6% to $1.0974
  • The British pound rose 0.3% to $1.2457
  • The Japanese yen rose 0.4% to 133.18 per dollar

Cryptocurrencies

  • Bitcoin fell 1.4% to $29,768.08
  • Ether rose 0.6% to $1,905.22

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined two basis points to 3.41%
  • Germany’s 10-year yield advanced five basis points to 2.36%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield advanced two basis points to 3.57%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.3% to $82.61 a barrel
  • Gold futures rose 0.2% to $2,022.60 an ounce
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