FOMC Preview

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • FOMC Meeting Preview
  • The S&P 500 Approaches Downside Target: Chart

Stock futures are modestly higher this morning as yesterday’s sharp declines are digested while bond yields pulled back from multi-year highs as focus remains on the Fed.

The 10s-2s spread inverted again overnight after GS and JPM changed their forecasts to reflect a 75 bp hike tomorrow which is in line with rate market expectations. This dynamic is a sharp change in expectations from just the end of last week and largely the reason for the carnage in equities yesterday.

Economic data was slightly better than feared overnight between the German ZEW Survey and the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, but good data is being seen as hawkish in this aggressive policy environment.

Looking into today’s session, we will get another read on U.S. inflation via the PPI report (E: 0.8% m/m, 11.0% y/y) but the release is not likely to materially shift policy expectations at this point with the June FOMC Meeting getting underway this morning.

Bottom line, the latest declines in stocks have been due to a rapid repricing of Fed rate hike expectations, from 50 basis points as recently as last week to 75 basis points as of yesterday and whether stocks can stabilize here will likely depend on how the bond market (namely Fed Funds futures) trade today and through the conclusion of the Fed meeting tomorrow. New highs in yields and another yield curve inversion will weigh on stocks while stabilization in rates could lead to some degree of a relief rally.

Three Keys to a Bottom Updated (Not Good)

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Three Keys to a Bottom Updated (Not Good)
  • Weekly Market Preview: All About the Fed
  • Weekly Economic Cheat Sheet: Survey Data in Focus

Global stocks are trading sharply lower and bond yields rose to new multi-year highs overnight amid fears that the Fed is getting more aggressive into an economic slowdown.

In the wake of Friday’s hot CPI report, rate markets are now pricing in a 75 basis point hike by the Fed in the next three months which saw the 10s-2s spread invert overnight underscoring renewed and growing recession worries.

Looking into today’s session, there are no notable economic reports, and no Fed officials are scheduled to speak.

There are two Treasury Bill auctions at 11:30 a.m. ET (3-Month Bills and 6-Month Bills). And while they are typically lesser followed, the results could shed light on market expectations of Fed policy in the coming months and if we see rates continue to surge higher, especially those with shorter duration, then concerns about a more aggressive stance by the Fed will likely keep pressure on risk assets today.

Why Stocks Dropped Yesterday

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Why Stocks Dropped Yesterday
  • ECB Takeaways and Why Fragmentation Matters to Markets

Futures are slightly lower as markets look ahead to today’s latest read on inflation via the CPI report while news from China was again mixed.

Negatively, Shanghai residents will undergo mandatory COVID testing this weekend (another potential setback to fully reopening).

Positively, Chinese CPI came in under expectations, rising 2.1% yoy vs. (E) 2.3% yoy, allowing for more stimulus.

Today focus is on CPI and expectations are as follows: 0.7% m/m, 8.2% y/y; Core: 0.5% m/m, 5.9% y/y.  Given yesterday’s late declines, unless we see an outright increase in CPI from April, I don’t think a firm CPI number should cause much more selling, while a slightly underwhelming CPI could prompt a solid rebound.  The other notable report today is Consumer Sentiment (E: 58.5) and we’ll look for five-year inflation expectations to stay below 3.0%.

Market Multiple Table: June Update

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Market Multiple Table – June Update

Stock futures are modestly lower this morning as bond yields continued to rise overnight thanks to a more hawkish than expected central bank decision.

The RBA raised rates by 50 bps vs. (E) 40 bps overnight citing elevated inflation pressures which have rekindled fears about more aggressive monetary policy globally.

Meanwhile, economic data was soft as German Manufacturers Orders fell -2.7% vs. (E) 0.5% which underscores the recent loss of momentum in economic growth.

Looking into today’s session, there is just one economic report: International Trade in Goods (E: -$90.2B) which is not likely to materially move markets while no Fed officials are scheduled to speak.

That will leave investors focused on the latest move higher in yields as that was the main reason for the steady fade in stocks yesterday. To that point, there is a 3-Yr Treasury Note auction at 1:00 p.m. ET that could move the bond market, and for stocks to move higher today, we will need to see yields level out.

Tom Essaye Quoted in Nasdaq on June 2, 2022

Markets Slide Once More: Navigate with Managed Futures

Numbers this strong would likely reverse any hopes the Fed would consider a pause in rate hikes after the June/July increases because it would signal the labor market remains very tight…Tom Essaye of the Sevens Report told CNBC. Click here to read the full article.

Tom Essaye Quoted in CNBC on June 2, 2022

Dow falls 300 points, Nasdaq drops 2%, as major indexes notch weekly losses

Numbers this strong would likely reverse any hopes the Fed would consider a pause in rate hikes after the June/July increases, because it would signal the labor market remains very tight…Tom Essaye of the Sevens Report said. Click here to read the full article.

Tom Essaye Quoted in Market Watch on April 22, 2022

2-year Treasury yield ends week at December 2018 high as Fed officials move toward more quickly tightening policy

Treasury yields surged again on the idea of even more rate hikes, specifically that the Fed could hike 50 bps (basis points) in May, June, and July…said Tom Essaye, founder of Sevens Report Research, in a note. Click here to read the full article.

Why Inflation is the Key Variable Going Forward

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Why Inflation Is the Key Variable Going Forward
  • Weekly Market Preview:  More Clarity on Fed Rate Hikes This Week?
  • Weekly Economic Cheat Sheet:  CPI Thursday, Inflation Expectations Friday.

Futures are slightly lower following a quiet weekend as investors digested the strong jobs report and last weeks’ hawkish surprises from the ECB and BOE.

ECB officials downplayed the idea of a summer rate hike over the weekend but didn’t rule out a hike in 2022 (largely confirming the hawkish commentary from Lagarde).

Economic data remained mixed as China’s Caixin services PMI beat estimates (51.4 vs. (E) 50.5) but German Industrial Production missed expectations (-0.3% vs. (E) 0.4%) although the data isn’t moving markets.

Today should be a generally quiet day, as from a market influence standpoint all the really important companies have released earnings, so earnings season is “over” for all intents and purposes.  Additionally, there’s only one notable economic report, Consumer Credit ($21.0 bln), but given the strength of personal balance sheets that shouldn’t move markets today.  On the geo-political front, French President Macron travels to Moscow to meet with Putin about Ukraine, and any positive headlines could produce a mild tailwind on stocks.

Are Rate Hikes a Reason to Reduce Stock Exposure?

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Are Rate Hikes a Reason to Reduce Stock Exposure?
  • Chart: Level to Watch in the VIX

U.S. stock futures are tracking global equity markets higher amid easing Omicron fears and good economic data.

GlaxoSmithKline reported overnight that their antibody treatment is effective against the heavily mutated Omicron variant which is helping further ease fears about the new strain.

Economically, Chinese Imports rose 31.7% vs. (E) 21.5% y/y and Exports rose 22.0% vs. (E) 20.3% y/y in November pointing to a still-healthy economic recovery and that is supporting risk on money flows this morning.

Today, there are two lesser followed economic reports due out: International Trade in Goods and Services (E: -$66.8B), Productivity and Costs (E: -4.9%, 8.3%) but neither is likely to materially move markets while there are no Fed officials speaking today.

There is a 3-year Treasury Note auction at 1:00 p.m. ET that could impact yields and the broader curve and if we see a sharp enough flattening move (weak demand for shorter maturities amid rate hike fears) stocks could come under pressure, but to be clear, the tone is very risk on this morning as dip-buyers step into the market, chasing this bounce higher.

When Will Rate Hikes Kill The Rally?

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When Will the Fed Kill the Bull Market? (Or, What is the Neutral Fed Funds Rate?)

A lot of clichés on Wall Street aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, but one saying I have found to be  quite accurate is: Bull Markets Don’t Die From Old Age. It’s the Fed that Kills Them.

At least over the last 20 years, that has largely proven true. The general script goes like this:

First, the Fed starts raising rates because financial conditions have become too easy (this should sound familiar). In this cycle, rate hikes began in December 2015 but importantly, they are starting to accelerate.

Second, those rate hikes cause the yield curve to invert. That happens as bond investors sell short-term Treasuries and send short-term yields higher (because the Fed is raising short-term rates), and buy longer-dated Treasuries, pushing those yields lower, because investors know the rate hikes will eventually cut off economic activity. In this cycle, the yield curve hasn’t inverted yet, but the 10s—2s Treasury yield spread has fallen from over 2% in late-2014 to fresh, multi-year lows at 0.77% (as of Sept. 5).

Third, the inversion of the yield curve is a loud-and-clear “last call” on the bull market. The rally doesn’t end when the curve inverts, but it’s a clear sign that the end is much closer to the beginning. In this cycle: We are not at that inversion step yet, although we are getting uncomfortably close.

Fourth, after the curve inverts, the Fed keeps hiking rates until economic momentum is halted. During the last two economic downturns (2001/2002 and 2008/2009) the Fed was able to hike rates to 6.5% and 5.25%, respectively, before effectively killing the bull market.

But just as the Fed continues to cut rates after the economy has bottomed, it also hikes rates after economic growth has stalled (because of the lag time between rate hikes and the effect on the economy).

So, it’s reasonable to assume the actual Fed Funds rate level which caused the slowdown/bear market is at least 25 to 50 basis points below those high yields, so 6% or 6.25% in ’01/’02 and 4.75% or 5% in ’08/’09.

In this cycle, the most important question we can ask is: At what level of rates does the Fed kill the expansion and the rally? That number, which the Fed calls the “neutral” Fed Funds rate is thought to be somewhere between 2.5% and 3% this time around (at least according to Fed projections).

However, we’ve never come out of a cycle where we’ve had:
1. Four separate rounds of QE

2. The maintaining of a multi-trillion dollar balance sheet

3. Eight-plus years of basically 0% interest rates

4. Eight-plus years of sub-3% GDP growth

So, common sense would tell us that this “neutral” Fed funds rate is going to be much, much lower than it’s been in the past.

How much lower remains the critical question (2.5%? 2.0%? 1.5?)

This is really important, because if the answer is 1.5%, we’re going to hit that early next year (it likely isn’t 1.5%, but it may not be much higher).

And, what impact will balance sheet reduction have on this neutral rate?

Again, common sense would tell us that balance sheet reduction makes the neutral rate lower than in the past, because balance sheet reduction is a form of policy tightening that will go on while rates are rising (so it’s a double tightening whammy).

There are two important takeaways from this analysis.

First, while clearly the tone of this analysis is cautious, it’s important to realize that the yield curve has not inverted yet, so we haven’t heard that definitive “last call” on the rally. And, just like at an actual last call, there’s still some time and momentum left afterwards, so an inverted curve is a signal to get ready to reduce exposure, not a signal to do so that minute.

Second, on a longer-term basis, if the Fed really is serious about hiking rates, then this bull market is coming to an end, and the risk is for it happening sooner rather than later. Because the level at which rate hikes cause a slowdown and kill the bull market is likely to be much, much lower than anything we’ve seen before (unless there is a big uptick in economic activity).

That is why I said yesterday that if the Fed is serious about consistently hiking rates going forward, that the “hourglass” may have finally been flipped on the bull run. So, while hitting that “Neutral” Fed funds rate Is hopefully at least a few quarters away (unless things are way worse than we think) it’s my job to watch for these types of tectonic shifts in the market so that we’re all prepared to act when the time is right. We will be watching this closely.

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