Markets face another hefty interest rate hike in the week ahead as policymakers continue their fight against stubborn inflation.
Investors will be squarely focused on the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting on Sept. 20-21, with officials expected to deliver a third-straight 75-basis-point increase to their benchmark policy rate after discussions Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Wall Street will also take its cue from Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech in the aftermath of the event, along with economic projections of U.S. central bank members and the latest dot plot showing each official’s forecast for the central bank’s key short-term interest rate.
“In the updated projections, we look for revisions in the direction of less growth, higher unemployment, and a higher terminal rate – yet, we expect the inflation path to remain largely unchanged,” analysts at Bank of America led by Michael Gapen wrote in a note Friday. “To our eyes, this would suggest risks of a hard landing are rising, though we expect the median member to forecast a soft landing.”
The readout of Federal Reserve expectations may determine whether markets get relief from a recent sell-off or extend sharp declines. On Friday, all three major averages logged their worst week since June. The benchmark S&P 500 shed 4.7% in the week ended Sept. 16, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.1%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 5.5%.
Hotter-than-expected inflation data earlier this month sparked a new wave of pessimism about the U.S. central bank’s rate-hiking campaign and its potential to significantly stunt economic growth.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) in August reflected an 8.3% increase over last year and a 0.1% increase over the prior month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday. Economists had expected prices to rise 8.1% over last year and fall 0.1% over last month, according to estimates from Bloomberg.
Wall Street heavyweights including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Nomura have all lifted their interest rate projections immediately after the reading while raising expectations for a hard landing — a sharp downturn following a period of rapid growth.
Goldman Sachs warned on Thursday that the stock market may plunge another 26% if the Fed’s rate-hiking campaign triggered a recession.
“If only a severe recession — and a sharper Fed response to deliver it — will tame inflation, then the downside to both equities and government bonds could still be substantial, even after the damage that we have already seen,” Goldman said.
Elsewhere in the coming week, a lineup of housing data is on the docket, with gauges on building permits, housing starts, and existing home sales all set to be closely watched. Releases will come after mortgage rates surged past 6% last week, the highest level since November 2008, exacerbating already rampant concerns around affordability.
On the earnings calendar, results are due out from headliners including FedEx (FDX), Lennar (LEN), General Mills (GIS), Costco (COST), and Darden Restaurants (DRI).
Shares of FedEx plunged 21% on Friday – wiping out $11 billion in market value for the shipping giant in its worst single-day drop on record after the company warned of a global recession in an ugly earnings pre-announcement. FedEx also withdrew its full-year guidance, citing macroeconomic trends that have “significantly worsened.”
The logistic giant’s messaging could be a sign of what’s to come as investors inch closer toward the next earnings season, with many strategists sounding the alarm on earnings expectations for the remainder of this year.
According to data from FactSet Research, earnings growth expectations for the S&P 500 stand at an increase of 3.7% for the third quarter, down sharply from expectations of 9.8% growth at the end of June. Analysts have cut Q3 earnings expectations over the last 2-3 months for every sector in the S&P 500 except energy, and seven out of 11 sectors in the index are now expected to show outright year-over-year declines in earnings, compared to only three in the second quarter.
In a note on Friday, Bank of America’s Michael Hartnett said earnings per share recession shock could be the catalyst for new market lows, pointing to FedEx’s message.
Monday: NAHB Housing Market Index, September (47 expected, 49 during prior month)
Tuesday: Building permits, August (1.605 million expected, 1.674 million during prior month, revised to 1.685 million); Building permits, month-over-month, August (-4.8% expected, -1.3% during prior month, revised to -0.6%); Housing Starts, August (1.450 million expected, 1.446 during prior month); Housing Starts, month-over-month, August (0.3% expected, -9.6% during prior month)
Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ended August 12 (0.2% during prior week); Existing Home Sales, August (4.70 million expected, 4.81 million during prior month); Existing Home Sales, month-over-month, August (-2.3% expected, -5.9% during prior month); FOMC Rate Decision (Lower Bound), September 21 (3.00% expected, 2.25% during prior month); FOMC Rate Decision (Upper Bound), September 21 (3.25% expected, 2.50% during prior month); Interest on Reserve Balances Due, September 22 (3.15% expected, 2.40% during prior month)
Thursday: Current Account Balance, Q2 (-$260.8 billion expected, -$291.4 billion during prior quarter); Initial jobless claims, week ended September 17 (217,000 expected, 213,000 during prior week); Continuing claims, week ended September 10 (1.398 expected, 1.403 during prior week); Leading Index, August (-0.1% expected, -0.14% during prior month); Kansas City Fed. Manufacturing Activity, September (5 expected, 3 during prior month)
Friday: S&P Global U.S. Manufacturing PMI, September Preliminary (51.3 expected, 51.5 during prior month); S&P Global U.S. Services PMI, September Preliminary (45.5 expected, 43.7 during prior month); S&P Global U.S. Manufacturing PMI, September Preliminary (46.0 expected, 44.6 during prior month)
Monday: AutoZone (AZO)
Tuesday: Stitch Fix (SFIX)
Wednesday: FedEx (FDX), Lennar (LEN), General Mills (GIS), KB Home (KBH), Trip.com (TCOM)
Thursday: Costco (COST), Darden Restaurants (DRI), FactSet (FDS)
Friday: Carnival (CCL)
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc
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