Yesterday was another one of those days that makes you scratch your head. In a relatively busy day for economic data, Initial Jobless Claims came in within 25K of a 50-year low, and the Philly Fed Manufacturing report saw its largest m/m increase in a decade. That follows other data last week where Retail Sales were very strong and CPI and PPI both came in ahead of consensus forecasts. The trend of better than expected data since the June employment report on July 5th is reflected in recent moves of the Citi Economic Surprise Index which has rallied from -68.3 up to -41.5. Granted, it’s still negative, but what was looking like a real dismal backdrop for the economy just three weeks ago seems to be showing signs of improvement.
On top of the economic data, two notable interviews from FOMC officials Williams from New York and Vice Chair Clarida moved markets. Given the strong tone of economic data, one would expect both officials to try and tone down rising market expectations regarding any aggressive policy moves at the July meeting. Well, markets don’t always make sense.
In their respective interviews, both Williams and Clarida not only didn’t tone down expectations, but they added fuel to the fire. Williams noted that “it pays to act quickly to lower rates” and “vaccinate” the economy “against further ills.” Clarida was even more direct when he said that “Research shows you act preemptively when you can.” In other words, the data-dependent Fed is casting the data aside and ready to move anyway. In his interview on Fox Business, Clarida almost got a chuckle when asked whether there was any chance the Fed wouldn’t cut rates in July.
The dovish turn from the Fed was immediately reflected in market expectations for rate policy at the July meeting. Back in June, market expectations for a 50 basis points (bps) cut at the next meeting peaked out at under 50%. Then, in the days following the June employment report, expectations dropped all the way down to 3%. In the last ten days, though, the trend has completely reversed, and as of yesterday’s close topped out at 71% versus just a 29% chance for a 25 bps cut. Probabilities for a 50 bps cut came in a bit overnight but are still at about 50/50. Yesterday alone, though, expectations for a 25 bps cut and a 50 bps cut more than completely reversed from the prior day, and remember, that’s after what was a good day of economic data! Can you imagine what expectations would be like if the data was actually bad? Become a Bespoke Premium member today with a two-week free trial.