If last Friday’s message from non-farm payrolls was a reminder of a recovering and healthy US jobs market, today’s producer prices index report is a reminder that not only deflation has crept into suppliers’ pipelines but, that the Fed’s description of lower energy prices having “transitory” effects will remain in next week’s FOMC statement as oil prices drop back 20% from their post-FOMC meeting peak and are now a mere 10 cents above the last FOMC meeting on January 28.
Today’s February PPI release showed a 3.4% decline on a y/y basis, the biggest decline since September 2009. PPI on m/m basis fell 0.1%, following greater declines of 1.1% and 2.1% in Dec and Jan respectively.
Markets dismissed yesterday’s release of -0.6% in February US retail sales as a result of bad weather and not properly reflecting robust online sales.
Although we expect the Fed to remove “patient” in describing the lift-off in interest rates, there is a considerable chance the FOMC could add a a more data-dependent phrase to leave the door open for a summer or autumn rate hike. Fed Chair Yellen will surely expound on this point at the post announcement conference, reiterating that the dropping of “patient” should not be read as indicating that the “Committee will necessarily increase the target range in a couple of meetings”.
The argument that transitory factors are largely responsible for low inflation, leading the market to raise the probability of a June rate hike. In her press conference, Fed Chair Janet Yellen may try to calm markets by emphasizing a planned, gradual nature of policy normalization.”
Sterling joins the damage
Sterling its fall as BoE governor Carney reiterated the threat of deflation twice this week, stating it “may be appropriate to take into account persistent external deflationary forces”, which include “…the combination of continued, foreign low inflation and the protracted effects of sterling’s strength on the prices facing U.K. consumers.”
Even fellow policy maker Martin Weale, known for his pro-tightening stance in autumn said this week he is “starting to wonder whether a rising exchange rate” may be a shock to prices. If the BoE is sounding more dovish than the Fed, perhaps it ought to be the other way around as the Fed has been stuck with a firmer currency for a lot longer. And even if the BoE did prepare markets with its warning that inflation would fall below zero temporarily, it appears to be adding this time that depth of the decline in prices could be more protracted than expected.
We cannot discount re-merging chatter about the risk to sterling ahead of May 7 elections as uncertainty heightens on the extent of post-election deal making in Parliament. Will there be a multi-party coalition, a minority government, or another general election. While this will be key factor in the weeks to come, we deem the BoE factor to be the more crucial element behind sterling’s fall and for further declines ahead, especially against and USD and NZD.
From time to time, 2021 StoneX Financial Ltd’s (“we”, “our”) website may contain links to other sites and/or resources provided by third parties. These links and/or resources are provided for your information only and we have no control over the contents of those materials, and in no way endorse their content. Any analysis, opinion, commentary or research-based material on our website is for information and educational purposes only and is not, in any circumstances, intended to be an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell. You should always seek independent advice as to your suitability to speculate in any related markets and your ability to assume the associated risks, if you are at all unsure. No representation or warranty is made, express or implied, that the materials on our website are complete or accurate. We are not under any obligation to update any such material.
As such, we (and/or our associated companies) will not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage incurred by you or any third party arising out of, or in connection with, any use of the information on our website (other than with regards to any duty or liability that we are unable to limit or exclude by law or under the applicable regulatory system) and any such liability is hereby expressly disclaimed.