New Infrastructure Plan and Rising Inflation Concerns

Rising inflation led Interest rates to rise along with commodities and cryptocurrencies. Hot inflation data sent interest rates higher and U.S. equities moderately lower. This week the focus shifts to how inflation and supply chain issues are affecting consumer spending and industrial production. All indexes finished slightly lower for the week ending Friday. The Dow down 0.56%, S&P down 0.27%, and Nasdaq down 0.68%.

Last Week – Rising Inflation

Treasury yields rose significantly over the course of the week with the infrastructure plan and rising inflation concerns. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had said the previous week that the Fed would be patient about raising interest rates. However, those concerns were realized further on Wednesday as inflation (CPI) surged 0.9% Month-over-Month and 6.2% Year-over-Year. Estimates were 0.6% and 5.9%, respectively. The largest YoY jump since 1990.

Investors are not sure the Fed will be able to hold off a rate hike for as long. The chance of a rate hike by next June rose from 55% to 77% in one day, and yields soared. Yields rose materially again on Friday with the UM Consumer-Sentiment Index coming in at 66.8, the lowest since 2011. Americans’ expected inflation rate increased to 4.9% for the next year. Rising wages is also pressuring prices. According to the JOLTS report, 4.4 million Americans quit jobs in September.

After five straight weeks of gains, the S&P 500 Index posted a down week. The index has been positive all but two months in 2021, January and September. Six of 11 S&P 500 sectors fell last week. Treasury yields lifted across the curve, especially at the front end as traders continued to pull rate hike expectations forward. U.S. Core inflation ran at a 4.6% pace, pointing to concerns that inflation may be more persistent than policymakers think. Wholesale prices, as measured by the PPI, swelled 8.6% YoY.

Equities recovered some of their losses later in the week with information technology and materials rising the most. U.S. initial jobless claims of 267K were above the 260K expected, but lower than the previous week’s 269K. Claims have continued to decline since peaking in early April and are approaching pre-pandemic levels. Electric truck maker Rivian Automotive Inc., which IPO’d at $78 per share last week, jumped 66.60% through Friday. The company is now worth more than both Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company. Making it the largest US company without revenue. Johnson & Johnson announced the spin-off of its consumer health business, creating two separate companies.

Week Ahead

This week the focus shifts to how pandemic-related disruptions are affecting consumer spending and industrial production. In the U.S., the economic calendar kicks off with the Empire State Manufacturing Index today. October retail sales and industrial production numbers on Tuesday. Housing starts drop Wednesday, with the Philly Fed Manufacturing Index on Thursday. There are a number of speeches from FOMC members throughout the week. It is becoming clear that investors are in disagreement regarding both fiscal and monetary policy. The “transitory” argument is wearing thin. Across the pond, the Bank of England surprised markets last week by holding rates steady. UK CPI is expected to show further acceleration.

Earnings announcements expected this week include NVIDIA Corp, Walmart Inc., The Home Depot Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Lowe’s Companies Inc., and more. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 17.95%, S&P up 24.67%, and Nasdaq up 23.06% through the close on Friday.

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