Market Commentary 05/17/2024, Market Commentary 05/17/2024

Market Commentary 05/17/2024

Balancing Act: Bonds Rally Amid Mixed Inflation Signals

It was another positive week for bonds as CPI data turned out to be cooler than expected. Inflation concerns eased with a slight dip in mortgage rates by about a quarter point on many products.

However, it’s premature to celebrate just yet, as PPI, or wholesale inflation, turned out hotter than forecast. While companies will always try to pass on input costs, sustained inflation makes transferring these higher prices to the end consumer increasingly challenging. Although a milder CPI print is encouraging, we anticipate the Fed may lower interest rates only once this year, especially given the recent Fed communications suggesting the unlikelihood of a July rate cut.

Despite unemployment being below 4%, a soaring stock market, and consumers still in relatively good shape, the Fed seems inclined towards a “higher for longer” approach with interest rates. There’s a concern that lowering interest rates may fuel animal spirits and exacerbate inflation. Notably, the resurgence of “Roaring Kitty” this week sparked a surge in option trading on some Meme stocks, indicating a shift away from restrictive financial conditions.

Nevertheless, there’s a strong desire to reduce interest rates. If unemployment softens and the unemployment rate hovers around the 4.5% range, then the probability of lowered rates becomes more likely. Lower interest rates would greatly benefit the US Government amidst record deficit spending and the need to fund these deficits with bond issuance.

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These are the opinions of the author. For financial advice, please talk to your CPA or financial professional.