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Business News/ Markets / Stock Markets/  Wall Street Shuns Risk in Run-Up to Inflation Data: Markets Wrap
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Wall Street Shuns Risk in Run-Up to Inflation Data: Markets Wrap

Wall Street traders making their final bets on Wednesday’s key inflation report sent stocks lower as bonds rebounded after a recent slide.

Wall Street Shuns Risk in Run-Up to Inflation Data: Markets WrapPremium
Wall Street Shuns Risk in Run-Up to Inflation Data: Markets Wrap

(Bloomberg) -- Wall Street traders making their final bets on Wednesday’s key inflation report sent stocks lower as bonds rebounded after a recent slide.

Equities extended their April losses, with the S&P 500 dropping below 5,200. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. — whose earnings are due later this week — paced declines in banks. Nvidia Corp. sank as Intel Corp. unveiled a new version of its artificial-intelligence chip. Boeing Co. slid on a news report the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whistleblower claims about safety issues with the 787 Dreamliner.

With no relevant economic data on schedule — or Fedspeak — traders positioned for the consumer price index. Markets have been tempering bets on Fed cuts as US economic data remains strong, with officials pushing back against the need for easing.

“Investors are increasingly calling a June pivot into question, given the resiliency of the economy," said Marta Norton at Morningstar Wealth. “A delay is within the range of possible outcomes, particularly if we see March inflation data surprise to the upside."

The S&P 500 hovered near 5,180. US 10-year yields fell six basis points to 4.36%. Oil dropped as traders assessed diplomatic efforts in the Middle East. Gold rose to a fresh record. The loonie underperformed ahead of the Bank of Canada decision on rates amid bets policymakers will turn more dovish.

Read: Treasury 3-Year Auction Tails After Rally Into Bidding Deadline

“CPI is the critical number this week," said Andrew Brenner at NatAlliance Securities. “The fear is that CPI has continued to be a thorn in the side of the Fed. But positioning is strongly bearish, and to quote some of the old traders we worked with in the past, ‘whatever hurts the most traders, when they are strongly positioned, is what happens’."

The US inflation prints for March and April will play an outsized role in determining whether the Fed proceeds to cut rates in June, according to Krishna Guha at Evercore. 

“We think the hurdle is not crazy severe and the odds are the data will come in good enough to go ahead," Guha noted.

A survey conducted by 22V Research shows that 53% of the investors think the reaction to CPI Wednesday will be “risk-on."

“Fifty percent of our survey respondents think inflation is ‘not’ on a Fed-friendly glide path back to target," said Dennis DeBusschere at 22V. “In February, the majority thought it was. The ‘yeses’ have been diminishing. Investors are not worried about Wednesday, but are concerned longer-term."

To Mohamed El-Erian, the Fed’s longer-run inflation expectations should be revised higher as macro conditions — like supply chains and productivity — evolve. 

“Inflation will be sticky," the president of Queens’ College, Cambridge and a Bloomberg Opinion columnist told Bloomberg Television. “But that shouldn’t stop the Fed, because the 2% inflation target is too tight for a global economy going through a major rewiring."

Former Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard told Bloomberg Television he’s expecting three rate cuts this year as inflation moves toward the central bank’s target while the economy remains resilient.

“Cut timing hinges on inflation data," according to Meghan Swiber at Bank of America Corp. “The market will be closely watching core goods and shelter for a read on the forward inflation trajectory."

While bond yields are likely to remain volatile in the near term as markets shift views on the Fed’s path, UBS’s Chief Investment Office continues to see an attractive risk-reward outlook for quality bonds, including government and investment-grade corporate debt.

“We continue to favor quality bonds in our global portfolios and recommend investors lock in currently attractive bond yields," said Solita Marcelli at UBS Global Wealth Management. “We prefer those with maturities in the 1–10-year bracket and see value in sustainable bonds."

“Valuations are so stretched right now that anything less than perfection from economic data or any geopolitical noise can create substantial and quick selloffs," said David Bahnsen at the Bahnsen Group.

Following the recent reset in rate-cut expectations, the setback in stock markets should prove temporary and is a buying opportunity, according to HSBC strategists led by Max Kettner.

“Risk assets certainly got a scare last week," they wrote. “We don’t think this will last, though."

BofA clients were net sellers of US equities last week, with health-care shares logging their biggest outflow in the firm’s data going back to 2008 during the period.

Clients pulled $3.4 billion from US stocks in the week ended April 5, with single stocks seeing their largest exit since July, quantitative strategists led by Jill Carey Hall wrote in a note to clients.

To Craig Johnson at Piper Sandler, a more tactical approach toward equities is prudent as we move into the second quarter.

“Although the market has shown some signs of broadening recently, we don’t have enough technical evidence to be convinced that a new leg higher can be sustained," he noted. “The combination of high interest rates, sticky inflation, a short-term extended equity market, and mediocre breadth makes the S&P 500 vulnerable to a 5%-10% pullback/correction in upcoming weeks/months."

Corporate Highlights:

Key events this week:

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

Currencies

Cryptocurrencies

Bonds

Commodities

This story was produced with the assistance of Bloomberg Automation.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 10 Apr 2024, 01:58 AM IST
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