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Week Ahead: FOMC, NFP, Big Tech earnings and the yen in focus

Vantage Updated Updated Sun, 2024 April 28 12:41

It’s a jam-packed upcoming week full of major risk events. The Fed meeting will grab the headlines but may actually be relatively simple and uneventful. Instead, Friday’s monthly US employment report could spark more volatility. Policymakers in the US are not cutting rates any time soon. They are data dependent so the marquee jobs data will be key in directing policy action. We also get Amazon and Apple earnings plus updated eurozone CPI figures to kick off the week.

Currently, markets do not fully price in the first Fed rate cut until December. This is a quite stunning shift from just three months ago when over 165bp of easing was predicted, starting in March. There’s now only around a 25bp cut and a half anticipated by money markets, and some are now exploring the tail bet of a rate hike. Inflation continues to run hot, with last week’s PCE data simply confirming an environment in which the Fed will have to defer to US exceptionalism. Any talk at the Fed meeting about the balance of risks in judging rate setters’ reaction function will sway price action. We note there are no new FOMC projections and dot plot until June where we will see a downward revision to the current 75bp projection. But speculation will be high with chatter about zero and 50bps of cuts for the year.

Non-farm payrolls have added to the stream of upbeat US data in 2024. Over 800k new jobs have been created in the three months of this year, with payrolls well in excess of population growth. That points to a continued tight labour market, even though other measures of employment, like the household survey have only shown limited growth. We also get ISM data this week, with both manufacturing and services sectors at levels closer to 0.5% GDP, rather than the current 3% growth levels.

Earnings season continues with two more of the tech titans from the slightly anachronistic “Maginficent Seven”. Amazon and Apple, report on Tuesday and Thursday respectively, after the US close. We’ve had mixed performance so far with Tesla, Alphabet and Facebook parent, Meta. Apple’s stock price has tumbled 10% this year with falling China smartphone shipments expected to cause a drop in Q1 revenues. Amazon’s cloud computing business will be under the spotlight along with views on consumer spending, with the stock up 18% in 2024.

Finally, markets will be on high alert for intervention in USD/JPY. This had a parabolic move on Friday through 158, pushing most yen crosses to multi-year peaks.  The move came after the Bank of Japan meeting kept rates steady but did flag future rate hikes. Traders ignored this and any story or driver, instead smelling blood with red lines now crossed and prices severely overbought on numerous measures.

In Brief: major data releases of the week

Tuesday, 30 April 2024

Eurozone CPI: The headline print is expected to remain at 2.4%, after unexpectedly easing in March. Underlying core inflation is predicted to fall one-tenth to 2.8%. But services inflation is likely to remain elevated around 4%. That is due to sticky wage growth.

Wednesday, 1 May 2024

–  US ISM Manufacturing: Expectations are for a modest decline to 50.1 from 50.3 in March. That would be very marginally in expansion territory. The employment gauges have been printing below 50 recently, which indicates contraction.

–  FOMC Meeting: After all the yo-yoing in rate cut bets for this meeting, rates will be kept at multi-year highs. US economic resilience is ongoing with inflation and the labour market still hot. Chair Powell is expected to sound less dovish as the Fed keeps the current level of restriction for as long as is needed.

Friday, 3 May 2024

US Non-Farm Payrolls: Consensus expects a headline print of 250k, down from the prior 303k. The jobless rate is forecast to remain at 3.8% and average hourly earnings at 0.3%. Household employment has seen limited growth, in contrast to the tightening in the labour market.

US ISM Services: The non-manufacturing headline figure is forecast to tick up to 52.0 from 51.4. This would stop a two-monthly decline. But a measure of prices paid, services inflation, fell to a four-year low in March.