Marketmind: Powell’s feint
A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan.
With just four hours to Jerome Powell’s podium appearance at Jackson Hole, all the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ have been debated and the jerky last minute market positioning done and dusted.
The only worry left is that it might be a damp squib.
The Federal Reserve chief delivers his hotly-awaited speech at 1000 EDT. (1400 GMT)
But the barrage of comments and interviews from his Fed colleagues over the past 24 hours leaves markets with little new to chew on about the policy trajectory.
Interest rate futures go into the setpiece with a much more hawkish bias compared to early August, putting the Fed’s peak ‘terminal’ rate early next year at about 3.8%. Yet that’s still below the 4% peak they expected in mid June and there’s still at least one rate cut penciled in from there to the end of 2023.
Powell’s unlikely to be specific about next month’s decision, preferring to wait for critical jobs and inflation data out before then. An easing in July of the Fed’s preferred inflation measure – the core personal consumption expenditure index – will likely be seen before he speaks later.
That said, futures are again leaning to 60% chance of another 75 basis point hike at the September meeting.
One possible focus is that Powell avoids detailed guidance on ‘peak rates’ but emphasises that they are unlikely to be cut next year at all. Any finer points on the Fed’ balance sheet rundown will also be lapped up, with some analysts now fearful that standing assumptions on the pace of so-called ‘quantitative tightening’ could drain commercial bank reserves too fast into any sharp slowdown next year.
Even though bond markets wobbled and the dollar jumped back in anticipation of the speech this week, Wall St stocks seemed less bothered – staging their best one-day rally in two weeks on Thursday and with stock futures holding those gains today.
While Bank of America’s weekly investment flows tally shows a further exit from most asset classes and overall positioning still at ‘maximum bearish’, financial stocks stood out this week with their biggest inflow since January.
Powell aside, world markets were focussed on Friday on the deepening European energy crunch and China’s latest stimulus plans on infrastructure spending. Copper prices hit their highest in two weeks on the latter.
But it’s set to be a cold winter. Describing it as a bone fide ‘crisis’, British regulators announced that household energy bills will rise 80% a year from October. Soaring energy bills also pushed Germany’s consumer confidence reading to record low for third month in a row.
Brent crude oil prices, so crucial to the inflation and central bank narrative this year, held this week’s gains back to $100 per barrel – largely on fears OPEC will cut output if a nuclear deal ushers Iranian crude back to world markets.
Since last year’s Jackson Hole… https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/zjpqkbrempx/One.PNG
A fast trip to neutral A fast trip to neutral
Key developments that should provide more direction to U.S. markets later on Friday:
* U.S. July personal consumption, Core PCE price index
* US July advance goods trade balance
* U.S. final August Michigan consumer sentiment index reading
* Fed chief Jerome Powell speaks at Jackson Hole 1400 GMT
(By Mike Dolan, editing by Kim Coghill firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reutersMikeD)