Direction Of Economy Uncertain As S&P Breaks 5K
If you’re feeling confused about the economy’s trajectory, you’re not alone. As a recap, the stock market has been soaring to new heights driven largely by the optimism surrounding AI. Certain high-frequency indicators like auto and credit card delinquencies have spiked. Inflation levels are off at a rate over 20% higher than in previous years. Finally, many in the US remain unsettled about their future as they are forced to live paycheck to paycheck, even while earning over $100K per year.
Just weeks ago, Wall Street anticipated six or more rate hikes, but now forecasts have been revised down to perhaps four. Ongoing hints from the Fed suggest potential interest rate reductions by mid-year. We reiterate inflation is public enemy number one and that is why the Fed will move very carefully with rate reductions.
Despite ongoing challenges, the housing market remains resilient, with homeowners reluctant to part with their low-rate mortgages. Nonetheless, the limited housing supply continues to strain affordability. Paradoxically, lower interest rates could stimulate existing home inventory, alleviating supply constraints and offering more choices to buyers.
Commercial real estate, particularly office spaces, is facing significant pressure. Prolonged interest rates raised by the Fed may hasten the exposure of poorly underwritten transactions with historically low cap rates, rendering them unfinanceable. Additional events, such as the collapse of a large European real estate fund (as reported in the WSJ) hint at more difficulties ahead for this sector.
Amidst robust economic data, low unemployment, and a thriving stock market, long-term interest rates are likely to remain relatively stable for now. Our forecast of the 10-year Treasury trading between 4% to 4.5% remains consistent, with inflation settling around 3%.