The US economy is nothing if not resilient, as a flurry of economic reports in January revealed. US real GDP 4Q22 posted a 2.9% growth rate compared to expectations of only 2.2%. U.S. durable goods orders rebounded a hefty 5.6% in December.
Even without the shortened US week due to MLK Day, it’s doubtful markets would have moved much, even those overseas, but there were some assets that turned in surprisingly powerful moves, both up and down.
I’ve written a lot about how rising interest rates discount financial assets – especially stocks and bonds. We saw when the 10-year Treasury Yield breached 4.00% the impact on stocks was predictably bad.
The US CPI came in at -0.1%, an expected but remarkable result, indicating that inflation is waning, not waxing, and putting investors at ease.
U.S. headline CPI fell -0.1% in December, with the core rate up 0.3%. The former is weaker than initially expected, but meets the revised expectation. The 12-month headline CPI slid to 6.5% y/y from 7.1% y/y last month, much lower than the 40-year high of 9.1% reported in June.
In what is certainly an understatement, 2022 was a year to wish a less than fond farewell. The Federal Reserve was still pumping stimulus into the economy at the beginning of the year—yes, hard to believe—but by March got, uhm, serious with a 25 basis point increase in its Fed funds rate. Russia invaded the Ukraine in what was expected to be an expedient victory. An energy crisis enveloped Europe, made worse by Russia but not caused by it, as years of European failure to secure diversified sources of energy came home to roost. What ensued was a raging 40-year high of inflation that was anything but “transient,” decimating financial assets in the worst rout seen since 2008.
Most developed country stock markets were strongly positive this past week on the drop in interest rates
While comments from Fed officials were mixed this week, stock markets saw the interest rate glass as half full and kicked off the year with a strong finish.
Markets were generally quiet this week despite a loosening of China’s austere Covid measures and an ongoing divergence of developed market monetary policies.
Yes, I was told that I was “old school” and didn’t understand crypto, aka Bitcoin, aka StableCoin, and now along comes FTX.