Recession fears roil markets amid Fed’s inflation fight: What to know this week

Recession fears roil markets amid Fed’s inflation fight: What to know this week

Sun, June 19, 2022, 7:16 PM

 

The Federal Reserve’s latest rate hike is expected to keep markets on edge in the holiday-shortened week ahead. Wall Street will be closed on Monday, with markets observing Juneteenth for the first time.

Last week, the S&P 500 logged its worst weekly performance since March 2020, losing 5.8% after falling into a bear market on Monday. This decline also marked the benchmark index’s 10th loss in the last 11 weeks.

The U.S. central bank on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points, the largest increase in nearly three decades. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also hinted at more aggressive tightening ahead as policymakers ratchet up their fight against inflation.

On Wall Street, the move spurred a wave of recession calls and sent markets into disarray.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 5% for the week, briefly slipping below the 30,000 level. The Nasdaq pared some losses to close higher Friday but still rounded the week out in the red, down roughly 1.7%. On Saturday, the price of bitcoin (BTC-USD) dropped below $18,000 for the first time since 2020 as risk assets continue to face pressure.

  • “The main take-away for investors is that inflation has the Fed’s attention and that they are taking it very seriously,” Independent Advisor Alliance Chief Investment Officer Chris Zaccarelli said. “Despite the fact that higher interest rates – all things being equal – are bad for risk assets, it is more important to get inflation under control and the rapid (and flexible) change from 0.5% up to 0.75% on very short notice, showed a new willingness to fight inflation with actions rather than words.”

While the Fed’s unprecedented action Wednesday reiterated its commitment to normalizing price levels, investors and economists fear this also increased the risk its inflation-fighting measures may tip the economy into a recession.

“Our worst fears around the Fed have been confirmed: they fell way behind the curve and are now playing a dangerous game of catch up,” analysts at Bank of America said in a note Friday. The firm slashed its GDP growth forecast to almost zero and sees a 40% chance of a recession next year.

“In the spring of 2021 we argued that the biggest risk to the US economy was a boom-bust scenario,” the bank’s research team noted. “Over time the boom-bust scenario has become our baseline forecast.”

Meanwhile, at JPMorgan, analysts warned the S&P 500’s decline implies an 85% chance of recession.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 17: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell waits to deliver remarks at the Conference on the International Roles of the U.S. Dollar, on June 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. Powell said the Federal Reserve is focused on curbing inflation and returning it to its 2% objective. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell waits to deliver remarks at the Conference on the International Roles of the U.S. Dollar, on June 17, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

All eyes will remain Powell in the coming week, with the Fed chair set to testify before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Wednesday morning.

The Fed chief has remained adamant that the U.S. economy can avoid an economic slowdown, even as market participants lose confidence at the prospect of a “soft landing” – a period when economic growth is slowed just enough to quell inflation but without spurring economic downturn.

“We’re not trying to induce a recession now, let’s be clear about that,” Powell told reporters Wednesday. In remarks at a conference in Washington on Friday, Powell also doubled down on the central bank’s goal to rein in soaring price levels.

“My colleagues and I are acutely focused on returning inflation to our 2% objective,” he said. “The Federal Reserve’s strong commitment to our price-stability mandate contributes to the widespread confidence in the dollar as a store of value.”

Powell’s optimism does not appear to be shared by Wall Street or business leaders.

A survey released by the Conference Board found that 60% of chief executive officers and other C-suite leaders across the globe believe their geographic region will enter a recession by the end of 2023. Some 15% of CEOs say they believe their region has already entered recession.

Models from Bloomberg Economics suggest the risk of a recession has soared to more than 70%.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 14: People walk outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the financial district in Manhattan on June 14, 2022 in New York City. The Dow was up in morning trading following a drop on Monday of over 800 points, which sent the market into bear territory as fears of a possible recession loom. (Photo By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
People walk outside of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in the financial district in Manhattan on June 14, 2022 in New York City. (Photo By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Another key sentiment gauge is set for release in the week ahead. The University of Michigan is scheduled to publish the final read on its sentiment index for June; the survey’s initial reading for June fell to the lowest on record as inflation weighs on consumers.

Corporate earnings will be light during the week, with Lennar Corporation (LEN), Rite Aid Corporation (RAD), and FedEx Corporation (FDX) set to report quarterly results.

Economic calendar

Monday: No notable reports scheduled for release.

Tuesday: Chicago Fed National Activity Index, May (0.47 during prior month), Existing Home Sales, May (5.40 million expected, 5.61 during prior month), Existing Home Sales, month-over-month, May (-3.7% expected, -2.4% during prior month)

Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ended June 17 (-6.6% during prior week)

Thursday: Current Account Balance, Q1 (-$279.0 billion expected, -$217.9 billion during prior quarter), Initial Jobless Claims, week ended June 18 (232,000 expected, 229,000 during prior week); Continuing Claims, week ended June 11 (1.328 million expected, 1.312 million during prior week); S&P Global U.S. Manufacturing PMI, June preliminary (56.3 expected, 57 during prior month); S&P Global U.S. Services PMI, June preliminary (53.5 expected, 53.4 during prior month); S&P Global U.S. Composite PMI, June preliminary (53.6 during prior month); Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Activity, June (23 during prior month)

Friday: University of Michigan Sentiment, June final (50.2 expected, 50.2 during prior month), University of Michigan Current Conditions, June final (55.4 during prior month), University of Michigan Expectations, June final (46.8 during prior month), University of Michigan 1-Year Inflation, June final (5.4% during prior month), University of Michigan 5-10-Year Inflation, June final (3.3% during prior month), New Home Sales, May (595,000 expected, 591,000 during prior month), New Home Sales, month-over-month, May (0.7% expected, -16.6% during prior month)

Earnings calendar

Monday

No notable reports scheduled for release.

Tuesday

Before market open: Lennar Corporation (LEN)

After market close: La-Z-Boy Incorporated (LZB)

Wednesday

Before market open: Korn Ferry (KFY), Winnebago Industries (WGO)

After market close: KB Home (KBH)

Thursday

Before market open: FactSet Research (FDS), Rite Aid (RAD), Apogee Enterprises (APOG)

After market close: FedEx (FDX), BlackBerry (BB)

Friday

Before market open: CarMax (KMX)

After market close: No notable reports scheduled for release.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc