Fed Blinks on Brexit Fears – Weekly Update for June 20, 2016

FED Blinks on Brexit Fears

Markets fell on Brexit fears and concerns about the Fed’s dovish statements, giving the Dow its worst week in a month. For the week, the S&P 500 slipped 1.19%, the Dow fell 1.06%, the NASDAQ dropped 1.92%, and the MSCI EAFE lost 2.78%.

The big news last week was the Federal Reserve’s decision not to raise interest rates. The decision wasn’t a surprise; just before the announcement, traders had assigned just a 1.9% chance of a June rate increase.

Looking at the official statement, we can see that the Fed is concerned enough about a slowdown in the labor market and persistently low economic growth to hold off on raising rates. However, the Fed hasn’t lowered its forecasts for economic growth or unemployment, indicating that its concerns may be short-term. Is that decision a reflection of the data or a political move designed to support its vision of a healthy economy? It’s hard to say.

A July rate increase is still possible though traders don’t seem to buy it. Current probabilities of a July rate hike sit at just 7.0%. What would need to happen for the Fed to move in July? Well, we’re not Fed economists, but experts think the Fed would want to see a strong June jobs report, a British vote to remain in the EU, solid data out of China, and stable financial markets.

It seems more likely that the Fed will push rate increases out to September or December despite Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s hawkish statements. With a contentious presidential election in November, it doesn’t seem likely that the Fed will rock the boat until the votes are tallied.

In a Q&A session, Yellen cited Britain’s upcoming referendum vote on EU membership as a factor in the decision to hold pat on interest rates. She believes that a Brexit is a decision that would have consequences for the U.S. financial and economic outlook.

After the shocking murder of a British member of Parliament, Brexit polls have swung closer to a “Remain” vote. However, the vote is still too close to call and politicking will continue until the votes are counted. Uncertainty around Britain’s possible exit will likely keep markets on edge, and investors should expect continued volatility as we approach the end of the quarter. We’ll keep you informed.

ECONOMIC CALENDAR:

Monday: International Trade in Goods, Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey

Tuesday: GDP, S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence

Wednesday: Personal Income and Outlays, Janet Yellen Speaks 9:30 AM ET, Pending Home Sales Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Chicago PMI

Friday: Motor Vehicle Sales, PMI Manufacturing Index, ISM Manufacturing Index, Construction Spending

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HEADLINES:

Retail sales beat forecasts. Stronger-than-expected May retail sales numbers point to renewed demand for automobiles and other goods. Core retail sales, which correspond best with the economic component consumer spending, rose 0.4% after growing 1.0% in April.

Industrial production falls in May. Industrial output fell more than expected on declines in utilities and manufacturing output.

Business inventories increase slightly. Stockpiles for U.S. businesses edged upward in April, indicating that businesses expect higher demand this summer.

Housing starts fall. Groundbreaking on new houses fell in May as construction on multi-family units dropped. However, permits for future construction grew, indicating that the housing sector is still active.

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