Current position: Continue Floating
Stocks are lower and mortgage bonds are slightly higher, following a cooler than expected producer price index inflation report.
Producer Price Index Inflation Data
The April Producer Price Index (PPI) report showed that overall producer inflation increased 0.2%, which was cooler than the 0.3% expected. This caused the year-over-year reading to decline from 2.7% to 2.3%, which is a huge improvement from the peak of 11.7% and the lowest level since January 2021.
The core rate, which strips out food and energy prices, rose 0.2%, in line with estimates. Year over year, core inflation declined from 3.4% to 3.2%, which was cooler than estimates of 3.3%.
Energy prices rose 0.8% in the report, which added inflationary pressure. Food prices declined 0.5%, which helped.
We have seen a substantial amount of progress on the CPI inflation readings in a relatively short period of time. The headline has gone from a peak of 9% to 4.9%, while the core has gone from 6.7% to 5.5%. We know where we were and where we are, but where are we headed?
We are going to have some big benefits in the coming months. We are likely not going to have the big spike in oil we saw last month, as it's down about 12% this month, so long as it remains here. The spike in used cars cannot continue, and the help from shelter costs is coming. We are seeing the rollover on a year-over-year basis, and the comparisons get much higher. We see a big improvement over the next two months in the inflation readings. Here are our bold forecasts:
Consumer Price Index Headline Forecast: 4.9% (current) to 3.5% in 2 months
Consumer Price Index Core Forecast: 5.5% (current) to 4.9% in 2 months
Of course, lower inflation means interest rates will move lower. We believe we are set up for a good summer.
PacWest said they lost almost 10% of their deposits last week. They then have to pay out those deposits, so they have to sell assets, likely at a big discount, to come up with the money. But now that they have fewer deposits, they can lend less unless they can raise capital. But since their stock is down 83% over the last two months, they can't even raise capital at the worst time, when their deposits are falling away. This is going to lead to less lending, which is deflationary.
Initial Jobless Claims
Initial Jobless Claims, which measure individuals filing for unemployment benefits for the first time, rose by 22,000 to 264,000. This is the highest initial claim figure since October 2021, 19 months ago.
Averaging out the last four weeks, this figure has increased to 245,000.
Continuing Claims, or those that continue to receive benefits after their initial claim, increased by 12,000 to 1.813 million. This metric remains at some of the highest levels we have seen in a long time and shows pretty clearly that hiring has slowed as people continue to receive benefits and not find a new job.
Short interest in the 10-year
There is massive short interest in the 10-year Treasury Note (highest since September 2018), and if inflation continues to come down, this will push yields higher and cause those shorts to cover (short squeeze), pushing the yields on the 10-year even lower as they are forced to buy 10-year Treasuries to close out their short positions.
Mortgage bonds are continuing to move higher, breaking above a quadruple ceiling of resistance. They are now in a new range, with nearby support at the 200-day moving average and the next overhead ceiling of resistance all the way up at 101.34. Bonds will not move higher in a straight line, but we think the trend is certainly higher. The 10-year is moving lower and is now trading around 3.36%, just above support at 3.35%. The key level to remain beneath is 3.43%, and if we get lucky and can break beneath the aforementioned floor of support, the next stop is 3.22%. Continue carefully floating.