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Will the PCE Report Derail the Fed’s Anticipated Rate Cut Plans?

By:
James Hyerczyk
Updated: Mar 29, 2024, 12:29 GMT+00:00

Key Points:

  • PCE report to reveal 0.4% inflation rise, indicating continuous trend.
  • Yearly inflation expected at 2.5%, influencing Fed's policy decisions.
  • Fed rate cut likely deferred due to consistent inflation figures.
PCE Report

Anticipating the PCE Report: Market Implications and Federal Reserve’s Reaction

The financial world is closely monitoring the upcoming Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) report, as it holds substantial sway over the Federal Reserve’s next moves and the broader market trends. With the PCE as the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, its implications are far-reaching, affecting everything from Treasury yields to the US Dollar, and from precious metals to equities.

Inflation Expectations and Federal Reserve’s Strategy

  • Forecasted Increase in Inflation: The PCE report is expected to reveal a 0.4% inflation increase for February, marking a continuation of the upward trend observed in January. This persistent rise challenges the Federal Reserve’s efforts to mitigate inflation and adds complexity to their future rate decisions.
  • Yearly Inflation Analysis: Economists predict a year-over-year inflation increase of 2.5% for February, exceeding January’s 2.4%. These figures, although seemingly small, have substantial implications for monetary policy.
  • Rate Hike History and Future Outlook: In response to inflation during the economic recovery post-pandemic, the Federal Reserve has aggressively raised rates by five points over 18 months. While officials signal readiness for a rate cut, these consistent inflation figures could defer such actions.

Federal Reserve Officials’ Perspectives

  • Governor Lisa Cook’s Cautious Stance: Emphasizing the risk of easing monetary policy prematurely, Cook advocates for a careful approach to policy adjustments. Her focus is on preventing above-target inflation from becoming a norm and disrupting the progress made so far.
  • Christopher Waller’s Take on Rate Cuts: Waller expresses hesitation about cutting interest rates soon, suggesting that the current rates might need more time to effectively curb inflation. He underscores the uncertainty regarding the pace of progress towards the Fed’s 2% inflation target.

Market Forecast

Given these factors, the short-term market outlook is tentatively optimistic, yet cautious. Here’s what to expect across various market sectors:

  • Treasury Yields: They may see slight volatility, but an overall steady trend could prevail as investors digest the implications of persistent inflation.
  • US Dollar: Likely to strengthen, considering the delayed prospect of a rate cut.
  • Precious Metals (Gold and Silver): These traditional inflation hedges might exhibit mixed reactions. Stability is a possibility, but investors will watch for any signs of inflationary pressure intensifying.
  • Equities: Traders might adopt a watchful approach, balancing between the Fed’s interest rate policies and corporate performance in an inflationary environment.

Conclusion

The upcoming PCE report, while expected to show a rise in inflation, should not be viewed as a devastating blow to the financial markets. Rather, it presents another delay in the Federal Reserve’s potential rate cut, likely pushing it to July. Investors and traders are advised to adapt to these developments, maintaining vigilance as the economic narrative continues to unfold.

About the Author

James is a Florida-based technical analyst, market researcher, educator and trader with 35+ years of experience. He is an expert in the area of patterns, price and time analysis as it applies to futures, Forex, and stocks.

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