We no longer support this browser. Using a supported browser will provide a better experience.

Please update your browser.

Close browser message

Investing

Inflation cools but is growth next?

The full impact of Fed tightening has yet to be felt, and a pause isn’t likely to negate the slowdown ahead.


Our Top Market Takeaways for January 13, 2023

Market update: The Climb

Stocks rallied and bonds saw gains on the heels of the latest U.S. inflation reading. Both headline and core (ex-food and energy) prices cooled for the sixth consecutive month in December.

Inflation prints have been a big driver of markets over the last year, with stocks popping on softer prints and sinking on hot prints. For instance, the S&P 500 saw a single day rally over +5% in October, with one of the first signs of cooling prices, and fell more than -4% in August, when prices soared above expectations. These two days ended up being the best and worst days of 2022.

This time around, the S&P 500 gained +0.3%, nearing the 4,000 mark unseen in a month, and the growthier Nasdaq 100 outpaced, up +0.5%. Broad international equities also continued their year-to-date climb on the prospect of China’s reopening story, coupled with a milder than expected winter in Europe. Even bitcoin popped over +7%.

U.S. Treasury yields slumped and prices rose as investors grew optimistic that the Federal Reserve is approaching the finale of the tightening cycle. We think this print seems to support a 25-basis-point rate hike at the Fed’s February meeting, with perhaps another hike in March before it takes a pause.

The effects of the hikes we’ve already seen continued to reveal themselves in the real economy this week. The latest: BlackRock announced it is letting go of 500 employees, or around 3% of its total workforce, given the “unprecedented market environment.” This news followed that of Coinbase, which plans to reduce its headcount by roughly 20%. It is worth noting, however, that layoffs have so far been contained within the rate-sensitive financial and tech sectors that likely over-hired last year. U.S. Q4 2022 corporate earnings season also kicks off this morning, which will provide further insight into how businesses have been faring.

Now, back to the main event (and before Friday the 13th turns the story around for us):

Spotlight: Observations from the CPI report

Inflation fell as expected in December… that is uniformly good news.

We expect the downtrend to continue, but the question is just how much further inflation will fall. The answer will likely impact both central bank monetary policy and financial asset performance in the year ahead.

Here are our thoughts on the data and what it might mean for the view.

  1. Inflation is trending in the right direction. The latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) print showed that economy-wide prices fell by -0.1% in December. And while headline prices are 6.5% higher than one year ago, we have seen significant cooling from inflation’s peak level of 9.1% in June 2022. Weeding into the details, falling energy prices more than offset a rise in shelter prices (energy prices fell 4.5% in the month, while shelter prices rose by just 0.8%).
    The core measure, stripping out food and energy, accelerated 0.3% on the month (versus +0.2% in November) but softened to a 5.7% pace (from 6.0% prior).
    Overall, while inflation remains above the Fed’s mandate, the slowdown is encouraging and sentiment surveys like the ISM prices paid index suggest lower levels of inflation ahead.

 

  1. Even shelter prices look set to decline. Home prices have already begun to cool as higher mortgage rates have weighed on housing activity, and new asking prices for rental leases are moderating. While the shelter component of the CPI is likely to remain elevated for some time, signs suggest that even this component (which accounts for nearly a third of the CPI) should come down in the year ahead.
  1. Markets don’t believe the Fed. The next Fed meeting is on February 1, and the central bank is widely expected to downshift from its last 50-basis-point rate hikes to a 25-basis-point rate hike. Looking beyond the next meeting, the Fed continues to signal that it intends to keep rates higher for longer, but financial markets expect rate cuts by the end of 2023. While some financial pundits seem confused by the disconnect, we believe it makes sense. The Federal Reserve does not want financial conditions to loosen pre-maturely with inflation still well above target, so they need to talk tough. Financial markets, on the other hand, are forward-looking and are attempting to forecast policy, not prescribe it. 
  1. Things seem less miserable. The misery index, which adds the inflation rate to the unemployment rate, has been gradually coming down since June 2022 as headline inflation has fallen by over 2 percentage points while the unemployment rate remains extremely low at 3.5%. Combined with the sudden reopening of China, this seems to be reviving some degree of investor optimism, with the S&P 500 having stealthily rallied over 10% since mid-October 2022. Leading U.S. economic indicators continue to validate our base case call of a recession in the U.S. later this year, but there is at least some chance that the economy remains resilient and experiences “no landing” at all.

The bottom line: The good news is that inflation data are trending in the right direction. The bad news is that the full impact of the Fed’s recent tightening cycle has yet to be felt. An eventual pause from the Fed will probably be seen as a positive catalyst for risk assets once it occurs, but it likely won’t negate the economic slowdown ahead. Investors should expect more market volatility in the first half of 2023, but we remain optimistic that market sentiment will improve in the back half of the year as investors price in an eventual economic recovery in 2024.

We think that periods of relative market calm can be used by investors to review their portfolios.

  • Equities: This could be a good time to reassess exposures and make sure that you have a proper balance between sector, style, size and geography, or to hedge exposures through options, structured notes or managed strategies. 
  • Fixed income: We still think that high quality parts of fixed income markets provide an attractive entry point, especially for those looking for a buffer against potentially adverse economic outcomes.
  • Borrowing: We still think that over the medium-term, interest rates should head lower, but mortgage rates have come in, and there could be some opportunities to hedge other liabilities.

At the same time, we are always looking for opportunities across markets. Small- and mid-cap equities, preferreds, and dislocated market segments such as semiconductors are among our more tactical areas of focus. Investors could be well-served thinking through ways to not just protect their portfolios in the event of recession, but also to position for the recovery that could come after.


DISCLOSURES

All market and economic data as of January 13, 2023 and sourced from Bloomberg and FactSet unless otherwise stated.

The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks. The index is designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.

The Bloomberg Eco Surprise Index shows the degree to which economic analysts under- or over-estimate the trends in the business cycle. The surprise element is defined as the percentage difference between analyst forecasts and the published value of economic data releases.

The NASDAQ 100 Index is a basket of the 100 largest, most actively traded U.S companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The index includes companies from various industries except for the financial industry, like commercial and investment banks. These non-financial sectors include retail, biotechnology, industrial, technology, health care, and others.

Investing in fixed income products is subject to certain risks, including interest rate, credit, inflation, call, prepayment and reinvestment risk.  Any fixed income security sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to substantial gain or loss.

The price of equity securities may rise or fall due to the changes in the broad market or changes in a company's financial condition, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably. Equity securities are subject to 'stock market risk' meaning that stock prices in general may decline over short or extended periods of time

 

We believe the information contained in this material to be reliable but do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. Opinions, estimates, and investment strategies and views expressed in this document constitute our judgment based on current market conditions and are subject to change without notice.

RISK CONSIDERATIONS

  • Past performance is not indicative of future results. You may not invest directly in an index.
  • The prices and rates of return are indicative, as they may vary over time based on market conditions.
  • Additional risk considerations exist for all strategies.
  • The information provided herein is not intended as a recommendation of or an offer or solicitation to purchase or sell any investment product or service.
  • Opinions expressed herein may differ from the opinions expressed by other areas of J.P. Morgan. This material should not be regarded as investment research or a J.P. Morgan investment research report.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION

All companies referenced are shown for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended as a recommendation or endorsement by J.P. Morgan in this context.

Bonds are subject to interest rate risk, credit and default risk of the issuer. Bond prices generally fall when interest rates rise.​ Investing in fixed income products is subject to certain risks, including interest rate, credit, inflation, call, prepayment and reinvestment risk. Any fixed income security sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to substantial gain or loss. ​


Check the background of Our Firm and Investment Professionals on FINRA's BrokerCheck

To learn more about J. P. Morgan’s investment business, including our accounts, products and services, as well as our relationship with you, please review our  J.P. Morgan Securities LLC Form CRS and  Guide to Investment Services and Brokerage Products.

This website is for informational purposes only, and not an offer, recommendation or solicitation of any product, strategy service or transaction. Any views, strategies or products discussed on this site may not be appropriate or suitable for all individuals and are subject to risks. Prior to making any investment or financial decisions, an investor should seek individualized advice from a personal financial, legal, tax and other professional advisors that take into account all of the particular facts and circumstances of an investor's own situation. 

This website provides information about the brokerage and investment advisory services provided by J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”). When JPMS acts as a broker-dealer, a client's relationship with us and our duties to the client will be different in some important ways than a client's relationship with us and our duties to the client when we are acting as an investment advisor. A client should carefully read the agreements and disclosures received (including our Form ADV disclosure brochure, if and when applicable) in connection with our provision of services for important information about the capacity in which we will be acting.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NOT A DEPOSIT OR OTHER OBLIGATION OF, OR GUARANTEED BY, JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES • SUBJECT TO INVESTMENT RISKS, INCLUDING POSSIBLE LOSS OF THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT INVESTED

Equal Housing Opportunity logo

J.P. Morgan Chase Bank N.A., Member FDIC Not a commitment to lend. All extensions of credit are subject to credit approval 

J.P. Morgan Wealth Management is a business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which offers investment products and services through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor, member FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. Certain custody and other services are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMCB). JPMS, CIA and JPMCB are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

Please read additional Important Information in conjunction with these pages.