Aggressive rate cuts are off the table

SP:SPX   S&P 500 Index
The SPX retreated nearly 3% from its all-time highs following last week’s print showing a higher-than-anticipated Consumer Price Index (CPI) for March 2024. This marks a second consecutive month of accelerating CPI in the United States, which presents an obstacle for the FED in its more than two-year-long battle against inflation. Plus, it makes it increasingly unlikely that the central bank will engage in aggressive rate cutting as is still widely expected. Not only is it improbable that the FED will ease its monetary policy during the FOMC meeting between 30th April and 1st May 2024, but the latest print puts future rate cuts in jeopardy as well.

Since the start of the hiking cycle, we have believed that it will be challenging for the FED to lower rates quickly. Thus far, this opinion has been supported by elevated and sticky inflation. Furthermore, rising prices of commodities make an arguably good case for this to stay true also in the upcoming months, tying FED’s hands for a little longer. In turn, this raises the chances of the central bank constricting the economy too much, leading to an economic accident.

Illustration 1.01
Illustration 1.01 shows the daily chart of VIX. Yellow arrows indicate important technical developments in the past month. As the reality of no aggressive rate cuts is starting to sink in, there is a good chance that volatility will stay elevated in the near future.

Illustration 1.02
The price of WTI crude oil rose nearly 20% this year. The geopolitical tensions in the Middle East have been playing an important role in influencing its price over the past few months. If there is a broader conflict between Israel and Iran (which is at the highest odds in the past ten years), then oil could rise in the upper range between $90 and $100, putting further pressure on inflation.

Illustration 1.03
The image above shows the SPX in the ascending channel. The yellow arrow indicates a bearish breakout below the upper bound of the channel.

Technical analysis gauge
Daily time frame = Bearish
Weekly time frame = Bullish (stalling)
*The gauge does not necessarily indicate where the market will head. Instead, it reflects the constellation of RSI, MACD, Stochastic, DM+-, ADX, and moving averages.

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