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Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead

Published 2024/06/09, 10:48
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Investing.com -- The Federal Reserve is to  meet as key U.S. inflation data is released. The Bank of Japan is also to meet and economic data out of the U.K. will inform the Bank of England as it contemplates rate cuts. Here's your look at what's happening in markets for the week ahead.

  1. Fed decision

With the Fed widely expected to leave interest rates on hold at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday market watchers are instead focused on how many rate cuts officials will signal for the rest of 2024.

The updated dot plot will likely point to two 25-basis point cuts this year, down from three in March.

Friday’s employment data, which showed both jobs and wage growth accelerated in May even though the unemployment rate ticked higher, saw markets pare back expectations for rate cuts this year, with the first rate cut now expected to come in September.

Recent comments by Fed officials have indicated they are in no rush to cut rates as inflation remains persistent and the outlook for growth remains solid.

Inflation has cooled after aggressive rate hikes starting in 2022 but has not yet fallen to its 2% target.

  1. May inflation data

Inflation figures for May are due to be released just hours before the Fed statement on Wednesday. Further signs of inflation easing could cement expectations for rate cuts, especially given signs of economic weakness.

Wall Street, boosted by cooling inflation, will be watching closely. Traders continue to price in some monetary easing this year, with even some slim hopes of a July cut.

A bad inflation miss could spook investors and bring back recession fears that have laid dormant for months.

No doubt, the data could fire markets up ahead of Fed Chair Jerome Powell's post-meeting press conference.

  1. Wall Street

Wall Street will be closely watching Wednesday’s inflation data and Fed meeting for clues on whether the soft-landing hopes that drove stocks to record highs are still justified.

"No one expects the Fed to cut (rates next week), but will they open the door for a cut as soon as September is the big question on everyone's mind," Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at the Carson Group told Reuters, adding he still sees a September reduction on the table.

This year's rally has lifted the S&P 500 up more than 12% year-to-date, on expectations the Fed can cool inflation without hurting growth. Yet recent economic data have sent conflicting signals: Friday’s jobs report was far stronger than expected, while earlier reports showed a slowdown in manufacturing and a first-quarter growth rate revised lower.

“The market would like some clarity and not see the Fed have to wait until December or January to begin cutting rates,” said Paul Christopher, head of global market strategy at the Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) Investment Institute, adding a long period of elevated borrowing costs could hurt the economy.

  1. UK data

Market participants will be closely watching the latest U.K. jobs report on Tuesday as they try to gauge whether wage pressures are easing fast enough to make a Bank of England rate cut a near-term prospect.

Average weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by an annual 6% in the three months to March, and April's 9.8% increase to Britain's minimum wage may push that growth rate higher.

Until recently, economists expected a June rate cut but persistent inflation pressures mean markets are not now fulling pricing in a move until November.

Meanwhile, April GDP data on Wednesday is expected to show growth softened after a robust 0.6% expansion in the first quarter.

Elsewhere, the opposition Labour Party is to launch its manifesto ahead of the July 4 election. While polls suggest Labour will hammer Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservatives, some business leaders doubt Labour can turn around Britain's recent weak growth performance.

  1. BOJ

Bank of Japan Governor Kazuo Ueda has already hinted at some kind of taper of the bank’s long-running quantitative easing program when the BOJ concludes its two-day meeting on Friday.

On Thursday he said it would be appropriate to reduce still-massive bond purchases as the BOJ exits decades of stimulus, stressing policymakers will move "cautiously" on rate hikes after delivering its first rise since 2007 in March.

Mizuho Securities sees a good chance of a 1 trillion yen ($6.4 billion) cut in monthly purchases to roughly 5 trillion yen per month, which could be weathered by bond markets.

Whether that supports the battered yen is a separate matter, with the BOJ and government concerned a weak currency could derail a hoped-for cycle of mild inflation and steady wage gains.

--Reuters contributed to this report

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