|Bid||0.00 x 0|
|Ask||0.00 x 0|
|Day's Range||112.12 - 112.29|
|52 Week Range||111.28 - 115.46|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Expense Ratio (net)||0.20%|
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday that consumer prices in the US grew by 0.2% in February after a stellar increase of 0.5% in January. The US dollar (UUP) declined after this report, as a lower rate of inflation could limit the pace of rate hikes from the US Fed. For developed economies, higher interest rates could lead to a higher valued currency. The US dollar (UDN) managed a minor recovery after the initial slump after the inflation (VTIP) report, but the recovery was short-lived as news about President Trump firing the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, hit the wires.
This inflation report added to the risk appetite that was revived after the tariff flexibility and tepid hourly earnings growth reported in the previous week. Both the payrolls report on Friday and Tuesday’s inflation (TIP) report have increased the odds for a slower pace of rate hikes from the US Fed. In the last five weeks, markets were concerned that faster rate hikes could have an impact on the performance of businesses whose borrowing costs could increase if the Federal rates go up. The inflation report was released before the market opened, and the initial reaction was recorded in the index futures.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that US consumer prices increased marginally in February. The year-over-year increase in core inflation (TIP) was reported at 1.8%, unchanged from the January reading. The inflation (VTIP) reading for February was largely in line with expectations, which is easing investor fears about interest rates rising too quickly and impacting the growth rate of equity investments and depressing the value of bonds (BND).
One of the key reasons for tariffs is to protect domestic industries, jobs, and consumption. Tariffs inflate costs for consumers and protect inefficient domestic companies from global competition. Consumers could be forced to purchase expensive steel from US producers to avoid a 25% tariff, but domestically produced steel could be more expensive than global steel.
Financial markets have witnessed an abrupt change in their approach to bond markets over the past two months. Up until the end of 2017, markets were not convinced that inflation could rise according to the Fed’s expectations, and so long-term rates (TLT) did not rise in tandem with short-term rates (SHY), leading the yield curve to flatten. Then the employment report for January indicated that worker wages had increased more than expected, which allowed the chance for inflation to rise.
The nominal GDP growth rate, which is the real growth rate plus inflation (TIP), was 4.9%. The nominal GDP growth rate for 2017 was 4.4%, and 3.9% in 2015 and 2016. The current federal funds rate of 1.25%–1.50% is much lower than the rates implied by the nominal GDP growth rate, suggesting that the US Fed could move ahead with faster rate hikes if the economy supports such rate increases.
Sectors like retail (XRT), including brick and mortar and online retailers (IBUY), are impacted by changes in consumer demand. At the same time, a lower level of demand for consumer goods could impact inflation (TIP) growth and aggregate demand in the economy, eventually leading to a recession. According to the latest conference board LEI report, new orders for consumer goods and materials were reported to have increased for the fourth-straight month to $141.05 billion from $140.98 billion.
Is the Lower GDP Estimate for 4Q17 a Sign of Slowdown? The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (or BEA) has released its second 4Q17 GDP estimate, projecting that the US economy increased at an annual rate of 2.5%. This second estimate is lower than the previous estimate of 2.6% from last month and the 3.2% growth seen in 3Q17.
If we turn back the clock to before the recession, we find that US debt levels weren’t this high, and unconventional programs like quantitative easing helped the economy recover from the Great Recession. The US Treasury must deal with higher interest rates and borrow more to keep the economy running, and this cycle could turn into a downward spiral unless revenues increase. The US Treasury is the king of the credit markets, and it’s followed by investment-grade (LQD)(VCSH) bonds and junk (JNK) bonds.
Bond markets across the developed world have enjoyed a three-decade bull run that began in the early 1980s. The increasing demand for fixed income (BND) investments has pushed bond prices higher and yields lower, but investors have continued to pour money into bond markets because bonds were known to help balance portfolio risk. Now, with global economies picking up the pace, interest rates are bound to increase—at least, in the short-term—until they reach normal levels.
A government budget deficit occurs when an economy’s annual revenue is less than its total expenditure. For fiscal 2019, the US Congressional Budget Office estimates the US budget deficit at $985 billion, where the expected revenue stands at $3.422 trillion while the budgeted expenditure was $4.407 trillion. The government spending is divided into mandatory and discretionary spending.
The recent market turmoil that shook investors’ confidence has settled for the time being, but the fear that another correction is around the corner could be unsettling. The reason for the market correction was the continued increase in bond (BND) yields, which resulted from rising inflation expectations. While everyone was focusing on market turmoil, investors may have missed out on the possibility of increased government debt, fueled by recent tax cuts and an expansive budget.
The FOMC January meeting minutes were the most awaited event of the week, and the market reaction to their release was more than dramatic. The initial reaction to the FOMC minutes was as though the FOMC members were not hawkish enough, and this led to a spike in equities and the US dollar (UUP). Rising interest rates make borrowing expensive for companies.
The January FOMC meeting minutes indicated that the staff and the members turned bullish on inflation. The confidence of the members about inflation reaching the 2% target over the medium term was evident with the minutes stating that the staff expects core inflation (TIP) growth could be notably faster in 2018. The minutes indicated that almost all the members were of the view that inflation could move up to 2% over the medium term with no major risks to that outlook.
In the FOMC meeting minutes, a staff review of the economic situation is presented to the members of the committee. The January meeting minutes’ FOMC staff review indicated that the real US GDP expanded 2.5% in the fourth quarter, and increased spending by households and businesses indicated that the economic momentum remained solid. As per the FOMC staff report, inflation (TIP) in the US remained below the 2% target.
The last Federal Open Market Committee (or FOMC) meeting was on January 30 and January 31. At this meeting, the target range for the Federal Funds target rate was left unchanged at 1.3% to 1.5%. This decision by the members was made after assessing current economic conditions and the outlook for economic activity.
Is Volatility Set to Drop Further after Stock Market Rebound? US bond markets found some relief in the week ending February 16, as bond yields retreated from their multiyear high at the end of the week. The issue that was squeezing bond investors hasn’t gone away. The inherent risk of rising yields still exists, and last week’s respite could prove to be temporary at least for bond markets.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a monthly report that tracks the price trends in wholesale markets. Industries from the manufacturing sector (XLI) are surveyed for changes in input prices, and the survey data are then used to construct the Producer Price Index (or PPI). The survey consists of questions that determine the changes in raw material prices, production levels, and finished goods.
The CPI (consumer price index) measures the changes in prices at a consumer level. The CPI is the weighted average price of a basket of goods and services at the consumer level. The CPI includes food, medical care (XLV), transportation, housing, apparel, recreation, education and communication, and other goods.
Inflation has been the specter looming behind the market correction, and just how much of a threat it is could become more apparent in the CPI report.