Stocks are sinking as hot inflation dashes hopes for a rate cut

Economists weigh their opinions after US consumer prices rose more than expected in March. General consensus? Don't expect interest rate cuts any time soon.

“Today's crucial CPI reading likely sealed the June FOMC meeting, with a cut now highly unlikely,” Seema Shah, global chief strategist for Asset Management, said in reaction to the reading. “This marks the third strong reading in a row and means that the stalled deflationary narrative can no longer be described as a blip.

“Indeed, even if inflation falls next month to a more comfortable reading, there is likely enough dovishness within the Fed now to mean that the July cut may also be overdone – and at that point, the US election will start to intervene.” “With the Fed’s decision being made,” Shah added.

Investors now expect two 25 basis point cuts this year, down from the six cuts expected at the start of the year, according to Bloomberg data.

Hotter data may push more policymakers “into both camps to cut interest rates,” said Ryan Sweet, chief US economist at Oxford Economics.

“The Fed has a tendency to cut interest rates this year, but the strength of the labor market and recent gains in inflation give the central bank plenty of room to be patient,” Sweet said. “If the Fed does not cut interest rates in June, the window may close until September due to the lack of data released between the June and July meetings that could change the Fed’s calculations.”

He expected that “the chances are increasing that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates by less than 75 basis points this year.”

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But Greg Daco, chief economist at EY, warned investors to be patient: “I think we have to be very careful with this idea that it's a play-by-play process.”

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, he noted, “These type of readings still indicate deflationary pressures. It is still moving in the right direction, and it will take some time.”

Following the data release, markets were pricing in an 80% probability that the Fed would keep interest rates steady at its June meeting. According to CME FedWatch data. This is up from the roughly 40% probability the day before.

More than half of investors are also betting on the central bank remaining steady at its July meeting, and markets now largely expect the first cut to come in September.

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