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After yesterday afternoon’s plunge, equity futures have picked up right where they left off and are indicated to open the last trading day of the week lower. Treasury yields are higher across the curve, and crude oil is plunging as the dollar rallies. Today will be a test for the buy the dippers who failed to step in yesterday. Will they show up today, or did they start their holiday weekend early.
Heading into the last trading day of the week, the market has grown increasingly concerned that the economy and inflation is too strong for the Fed’s liking. This week’s CPI and PPI reports certainly did not provide any ammo to the camp that’s expecting inflation to quickly revert to pre-COVID norms, but they also covered a month where gas prices surged 9%. As we noted in last week’s Bespoke Report, months where national average gas prices increase 9% or more have historically seen an average monthly increase of 0.5% in CPI which is exactly how much CPI increased in January. February is only half over, but gas prices this month have actually declined over 2%, which would be one of the weaker Februarys for gas prices dating back to 2004, so that has the potential to act as a tailwind next month.
Regarding the economy, Retail Sales came in significantly better than expected this week, but with three straight significantly stronger-than-expected Januarys in a row, seasonal adjustments may not be entirely accurate in the post-COVID world. Outside of the consumer, this week’s data wasn’t entirely indicative of a booming economy either. While Jobless Claims remain near historical lows, indicators like Small Business Optimism, New York and Philadelphia Fed manufacturing reports, Industrial Production, Capacity Utilization, Building Permits, and Housing Starts weren’t exactly positive this week.
During the month of January, Housing Starts fell over 4% on a m/m basis and more than 20% y/y. Single-family units, which tend to have a greater economic impact than multi-family units, were even weaker falling by 27% while single-family Building Permits fell 40% y/y. When looking at the 12-month moving average of Housing Starts, what started as a gradual deterioration has turned into a more dramatic decline that looks increasingly reminiscent of prior rollovers that occurred during or leading up to recessions.
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