(Sharecast News) – All eyes on Wednesday would be on the U.S. Federal Reserve and whether or not it signaled that interest rates hikes would stop after this policy meeting.
Many economists believed that was possible, but none were expecting Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, to say as much in his press conference.
As Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics explained, “the Fed cannot afford to be wrong twice about inflation, in the same direction, in the same cycle.”
Shepherdson was referring to the Fed’s erroneous initial characterisation of above target inflation coming out of the pandemic as ‘transitory’.
Yet Shepherdson was also expecting matters to have changed by September with core inflation prints having averaged less than 0.2% month-on-month in the latest two reports, hiring having slowed modestly and wages having slowed down.
Former Fed chief Ben Bernanke appeared to hold somewhat similar views to Shepherdson.
On 20 July, he told a webinar hosted by Fidelity Investments that “it’s possible this increase in July might be the last one.”
Perhaps more interesting, according to Bloomberg, Bernanke also said that: “We’ll get down to three, three [per cent] plus [inflation] by early next year and then I think the Fed will take its time trying to get down to its 2% target.”
Nonetheless, Bernanke reportedly added that the U.S. jobs market was “still pretty hot”, although on the flip-side, he was not anticipating a deep recession in 2024.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal on the same day that Bernanke spoke however, Mickey Levy, senior economist at Berenberg Capital Markets, argued that the Biden administration’s multiple fiscal stimulus programmes meant that higher rates still were needed.
“After failing to predict the economic and inflationary effects of the unprecedented $5trn in COVID spending, the Fed must properly assess current fiscal policies.”
“Continuing fiscal stimulus requires the Fed to raise rates further to achieve its 2% inflation target.”
In the corporate arena meanwhile, it was Lloyds Banking Group that would be in the spotlight, as the lender posted its first half figures.
Since February, the lender’s shares had been sliding back on concern that the improvement in margins was set to grind to a halt, said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Yet when it last provided guidance, in February, Lloyd’s said that it expected its net annual interest margin to rise past 3.05%, whereas previously it had guided towards 2.8%.
And that was despite expectations for further rate hikes out of Bank, Hewson noted.
Lloyd’s deposit base had fallen by £8bn over the last 12 months, while loans and advances to customers fell during the first quarter, extending the declining trend that had been in place since June 2022.
Overseas however, investors would be digesting the latest quarterly updates from Alphabet and Microsoft that were due out after the close of trading in New York on Tuesday night.
Wednesday 26 July
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