Inflation puts pressure on Powell: What to know this week

Inflation puts pressure on Powell: What to know this week

The Federal Reserve will dominate the conversation for investors this week.

The central bank’s latest policy meeting will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15, with the Fed expected to announce at least another 0.50% increase in its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday’s 2:00 p.m. ET policy announcement will be followed by a press conference with Fed chair Jerome Powell at 2:30 p.m. ET. The Fed will also release its latest summary of economic projections on Wednesday, offering officials’ forecasts for GDP growth, inflation, and future rate hikes.

Following last Friday’s data on inflation, investors are now bracing for the potential of more aggressive interest rate increases from the Fed, perhaps as soon as this week.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference following a Federal Open Market Committee meeting on May 04, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May Consumer Price Index (CPI) unexpectedly rose 8.6% in May, stoking worries on Wall Street that inflation has become more entrenched in the U.S. economy, potentially pushing Fed officials to take a more heavy-handed action in efforts to slow surging costs.

“The Fed’s price stability resolve is going to be really tested now,” Principal Global Investors Chief Strategist Seema Shah said in a note. “Policy rate hikes will need to be relentlessly aggressive until inflation finally starts to fade, even if the economy is struggling.”

This “relentlessly aggressive” stance could include raising interest rates by 0.75% on Wednesday, a move economists at Barclays said Friday is now their baseline expectation. “Historically, the US central bank has avoided surprising markets – say, by going 75bp when it is not priced in,” Barclays economists led by Jonathan Millar said in a note to clients published Friday. “But next week, we feel, is likely to be an exception.”

On a month-over-month basis, inflation climbed 1% in May, compared to 0.3% in April. “Core” inflation, which strips out the more volatile costs of food and gas, rose 6% over the prior year in May, more than the 5.9% that was expected.

Rising inflation and the potential for more aggressive action from the Fed weighed on financial markets last week.

The benchmark S&P 500 plunged 2.9% on Friday, rounding out its worst weekly performance since January and close just above 3,900 – the lowest level in three weeks.

The decline also brought yearly losses to 18%, putting investors back on watch for a close in bear market territory, or 20% below recent highs. The Dow wiped out 880 points, or 2.7%, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.5% by the end of Friday’s session.

“The CPI report is another reminder that equity markets will no longer be coddled by monetary policy,” Comerica Wealth Management Chief Investment Officer John Lynch said in a note.

This downturn has also spilled into the bond market. The U.S. 10-Year Treasury note is having its worst year on record, losing 12.8% so far, per data from Compound Advisors. The yield on the 10-year has more than doubled in 2022, from 1.52% at the start of the year to 3.16% as of Friday’s close.

“A higher-than-expected CPI number seals the deal on investors’ fears,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade. “And though consumers may be experiencing high prices in their day-to-day, especially at the pump, it’s disappointing to see that we don’t have a lid on inflation yet, despite the Fed’s efforts.”

In addition the Fed’s announcement on Wednesday, investors will also keep a close eye on the latest retail sales report due out that same morning. The Commerce Department’s data for May is expected to show retail sales rose 0.2% last month, a deceleration from April’s 0.9% increase. Excluding autos and gas, the pace of retail sales likely slowed to 0.4% in May, compared to 1% the prior month.

“Spending growth ex of gas and groceries is showing signs of slowing across income groups,” economists at Bank of America said in a recent note. “The gap between three-year spending growth in states with high oil production and those with high gas prices has shrunk, suggesting that the pinch of inflation is being felt broadly.”

Also on the economic data front, traders will get another snapshot of the U.S. inflation picture this week from the Producer Price Index (PPI), set for release on Tuesday.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect producer prices rose 0.8% in May compared to 0.5% during the prior month; on an annual basis, expectations are producer prices rose 10.8% in May, a deceleration from the 11% increase seen in April.

Corporate earnings reports are expected to be sparse in the week ahead, with results from Oracle (ORCL) on Monday and Kroger (KR) and Adobe (ADBE) on Thursday serving as the week’s highlights.

Economic calendar

Monday: No notable reports scheduled for release.

Tuesday: NFIB Small Business Optimism, May (93.0 expected, 93.2 during prior month), PPI final demand, month-over-month, May (0.8% expected, 0.5% during prior month), PPI final demand, year-over-year, May (10.8% expected, 11.0% during prior month)

Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ended June 10 (-6.5% during prior week), Empire Manufacturing, June (5.0 expected, -11.6 during prior month), Retail Sales Advance, month-over-month, May (0.2% expected, 0.9% during prior month), Retail Sales excluding autos and gas, month-over-month, May (0.4% expected, 1.0% during prior month), Import Price Index, month-over-month, May (1.2% expected, 0.0% during prior month), Import Price Index excluding petroleum, month-over-month, May (0.6% expected, 0.4% during prior month), Import Price Index, year-over-year, May (12% during prior month), Export Price Index, month-over-month, May (1.3% expected, 0.6% during prior month), Export Price Index, year-over-year, May (18.0% during prior month), Business Inventories, April (1.2% expected, 2.0% during prior month), NAHB Housing Market Index, June (68 expected, 69 during prior month), FOMC Rate Decision, lower bound, June 15 (1.25% expected, 0.75% prior), FOMC Rate Decision, higher bound, June 15 (1.50% expected, 1.00% prior), Interest on Reserve Balances Rate, June 16 (1.40% expected, 0.90% prior)

Thursday: Building Permits, May (1.790 million expected, 1.819 million during prior month, revised to 1.823 million), Building Permits, month-over-month, May (-1.8% expected, -3.2% during prior month, revised to -3.0%), Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Index, June (6.0 expected, 2.6 during prior month), Initial jobless claims, week ended June 11 (215,000 expected, 229,000 during prior week)

Friday: Industrial Production, month-over-month, May (0.4% expected, 1.1% during prior month), Capacity Utilization, May (79.3% expected, 79.0% during prior month), Manufacturing (SIC) Production, May (0.2% expected, 0.8% during prior month), Leading Index, May (-0.4% expected -0.3% during prior month)

Earnings calendar

Monday

Before market open: No notable reports scheduled for release.

After market close: Oracle (ORCL)

Tuesday

Before market open: Core & Main (CNM)

After market close: Sprinklr (CXM)

Wednesday

Before market open: John Wiley (WLY)

After market close: No notable reports scheduled for release.

Thursday

Before market open: Kroger (KR), Jabil (JBL)

After market close: Adobe (ADBE)

Friday

Before market open: No notable reports scheduled for release.

After market close: No notable reports scheduled for release.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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