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Fed’s key inflation gauges may offer path to rate cuts

Tan KW
Publish date: Sun, 23 Jun 2024, 02:26 PM
Tan KW
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The US Federal Reserve’s (Fed) favoured inflation yardsticks are poised to show the tamest monthly advances since late last year - a stepping stone for officials to begin lowering interest rates, possibly as soon as September.

Economists expect no change in the May personal consumption expenditures price index and a minimal 0.1% gain in the core measure that excludes food and energy, based on median projections in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The report, due Friday, is also projected to show 2.6% annual advances in both the overall and core gauges. The expected increase in the core measure, which paints a better picture of underlying inflation, would remain the smallest since March 2021.

Since their last meeting, Fed officials have said that while they’re encouraged by the simmering down in other inflation data - including the consumer price index - they need to see months of such progress before lowering rates.

At the same time, the labour market - the other part of the Fed’s dual mandate - is still plugging along, albeit in a lower gear. A healthy job market is providing policymakers some flexibility on the timing of interest-rate cuts.

The latest inflation numbers will be accompanied by personal spending figures that will inform on services outlays after recent retail sales data showed less of an appetite for merchandise. The median forecast calls for a slight acceleration in nominal personal consumption as well as income.

Among other data in the coming week are readings on June consumer confidence and reports on May contract signings for purchases of both new and previously-owned homes. In addition to the third estimate of first-quarter economic growth, the government will release figures on durable goods orders for May.

In Canada, central bank Governor Tiff Macklem is set to speak in Winnipeg, consumer price data for May are expected to show core inflation easing for a fifth month, and a gross domestic product release for April along with a flash estimate for May will also provide crucial insight.

Elsewhere, inflation numbers in three major euro-zone economies may also cheer officials, while central banks in Sweden and Mexico will probably keep rates on hold.

Asia gets under way with the release of minutes from this month’s Bank of Japan policy board meeting.

The document takes on heightened interest after authorities pledged to cut bond buying, while also saying that investors will have to wait until late July before getting details about the scale of the reductions. Hints may emerge on Monday.

Elsewhere, Reserve Bank of Australia Assistant Governor Christopher Kent speaks on Wednesday and Deputy Governor Andrew Hauser a day later, with the focus falling on any fresh hints of hawkishness after the governor said the board considered a hike at its meeting this month.

They speak after data Wednesday are expected to show Australian inflation ticked higher in May.

Japan will see a leading indicator for national inflation trends with the release of the Tokyo CPI gauge for June. Bloomberg Economics expects inflation in the capital to have picked up to 2.1%, lifted by an increase in utility prices after the government cut energy subsidies.

Other nations publishing updates on prices include Malaysia, Singapore and Uzbekistan.

In other data, China’s industrial profits on Thursday may reflect the benefits of an official push for equipment upgrades, and trade statistics are due during the week in New Zealand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Hong Kong.

South Korea gets two indicators pointing to domestic demand with retail sales and consumer confidence.

The Riksbank decision on Thursday will be a highlight, with Swedish officials widely expected by economists to pause their easing cycle after an initial rate cut last month - presaging a similar move anticipated for the European Central Bank to stay on hold in July.

With policymakers becoming more confident that Sweden is closer to taming inflation, they may ratify a path of two more reductions this year to bolster an economy that’s forecast by European Union officials to post one of the weakest expansions in the whole bloc.

Here’s a quick look at other central bank decisions around the wider region:

In the euro zone, inflation data in three of its four biggest economies will arrive toward the end of the week. The reports are expected to show slowing in France and Spain, with price growth staying weak in Italy.

Those numbers may offer encouragement to officials after last month’s setback, when inflation accelerated more than anticipated across the region. The ECB’s survey of consumer price expectations will also be released on Friday.

Other reports include Germany’s Ifo business confidence index on Monday, which is anticipated to show further gradual improvement in sentiment among companies in the region’s biggest economy.

Policymakers scheduled to speak include Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau, whose economy is subject to intense investor scrutiny before upcoming legislative elections. Appearances by ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane and the German and Italian central bank heads are also on the calendar.

In the UK, meanwhile, Bank of England officials - whose June 20 decision moved closer toward a potential rate cut in August - will continue to avoid public communications ahead of the July 4 general election. Data there include the final GDP release for the first quarter on Friday, including current account numbers.

Turning to Africa, Zambia’s growth statistics for the first three months of 2024, due on Thursday, may reveal some of the impact from a devastating drought. The dry spell is expected to cut expansion to 2.5% this year from 5.2% in 2023.

The next day, Kenyan inflation for June will give a further indication of the impact flooding and heavy rains have had on food prices there.

Mexico’s central bank gets its last consumer price reading on Monday before Thursday’s monetary policy decision, and the data will likely leave Banco de Mexico thoroughly unimpressed. With inflation warming up again and drifting further above target, Banxico is all but certain to stay on hold at 11% for a second meeting.

The central bank is the focus in Brazil as it releases minutes of its June 18-19 monetary policy meeting on Tuesday as well as its quarterly inflation report on Thursday. Sandwiched between the two is the mid-month reading of the benchmark consumer price index.

Keeping the key rate at 10.5% came as no surprise, though the post-decision communique’s relatively mild tone raised a few eyebrows.

Argentina’s economy likely fell into a technical recession at the start of 2024, with deep quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year declines. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg see a 5.4% year-on-year plunge, the biggest decline since the pandemic.

While many of the region’s other big inflation targeting central banks are either sidelined or increasingly hawkish, Colombia’s BanRep is expected to cut by a half point to 11.25% - 200 basis points down from last year’s 13.25% peak - and is on a path to end 2024 at 8.5%.

 


  - Bloomberg

 

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