Written by Richard Warne.

Economic fine-tuning is difficult. Markets continue to hope that central bankers will weave a path in terms of controlling inflation, while not having to aggressively increase interest rates, thereby potentially leading to a steady glide path for economies. Of late, there have been many commentators shouting about hard landings and heightened recessionary fears. So far this year, these fears have dominated markets and returns for both equities and bonds have been challenging.

The prevailing question now seems to be “are we there yet”? Have we reached the other side of the market reset? As we sit today sentiment seems very negative, but have these recessionary fears been baked into markets? The Fed in the US has made it abundantly clear that curtailing inflation is their number one goal, but it appears that markets have moved on to absorb expectations for several further rate hikes. This is probably best highlighted by the fact that the yield on the 10-year US treasuries has settled below 3% for some time.

Eurozone inflation came into focus last week, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) prints being higher than was forecast. Germany’s year-on-year inflation was the highest with a 7.9% increase. The focus here is not on quantitative tightening, as Christine Lagarde, President of the ECB, has already provided colour on this, but whether the first-rate hike will be 50bps. Futures markets are certainly starting to price in this possibility.

Looking ahead, much of this may become a sort of “waiting game” until we see the next meaningful event. The next CPI print in the US is only a week away, with the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) only a few days later. Potentially, a general lapse in headlines might allow for markets to settle into a more subdued pattern. For a data-dependent Fed that everyone has their eyes on, these economic data prints are more important than ever.

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