Weekly Market Commentary
July 05, 2022
The first six months of 2022 have earned a place in history books.
2022 is likely to become part of the lore passed from generation to generation. Stories will be told about this bear market, as well as the remarkable political and social events that have occurred in the United States and elsewhere. Here is a brief look back at the last three months.
Â· Will the real inflation please stand up? Prices continued to rise during the second quarter, although there was a significant difference in inflation readings. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which reflects price changes in cities, showed inflation was up 8.6 percent in May, year-over-year. The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Price Index (excluding food and energy) which measures price changes in urban and rural areas, showed inflation was up 6.3 percent for the same period.
Â· The Federal Reserve attacked inflation. The Federal Reserveâ€™s inflation target is 2 percent. With inflation well above that level, the Fed began to tighten monetary policy aggressively. It ended its bond buying program, began to shrink its balance sheet, and raised the fed funds rate by 1.50 percent year-to-date (with 1.25 percent of that increase coming in the second quarter).
Â· Bond rates rose. Bond rates moved higher during the quarter. Since bond prices move lower when bond rates rise, many investors saw a decline in the value of bond portfolios. By the end of the second quarter, the benchmark 10-year Treasury was at 2.98 percent, up from 2.32 percent at the end of the first quarter.
Â· Stock prices fell. Evie Liu of Barronâ€™s reported, â€śEnergy stocks were the only ones that posted gains in the first half [of the year] on the back of soaring oil prices, but even that sector has lost its momentumâ€¦Although energy companies are still pocketing record profits today, traders are quite aware that a recession would drag down demand, curb oil prices, and cut into their earnings.â€ť
Â· Consumer sentiment tumbled. The University of Michiganâ€™s Consumer Sentiment Survey showed that consumer pessimism deepened throughout the second quarter, largely due to inflation concerns. The June sentiment reading was 50, which is the lowest on record.
Â· The yield curve isnâ€™t feeling it â€“ yet. Many people anticipate a recession next year, but bond markets donâ€™t seem to think so. One of the most credible recession-forecasting tools is the U.S. Treasury yield curve. When the yield curve inverts, meaning shorter-term Treasuries yield more than longer-term Treasuries, there is a significant probability that a recession is coming.
More specifically, when a three-month Treasury bill yields more than a 10-year Treasury note a recession is likely in the following six to 18 months, according to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. At the end of June, the three-month Treasury yielded 1.72 percent and 10-year Treasury yielded 2.98 percent. In other words, the yield curve was not inverted.
Markets are likely to remain volatile until investors are confident the U.S. has avoided a recession, and no one is sure that will be the case.
Last week, major U.S. indices rallied late in the week, but finished lower overall, according to Barronâ€™s. The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries moved lower.