Business Standard

As global central banks consider rate cuts, inflation worries loom

Canada and the European Central Bank have been the first ones to introduce rate cuts, however, they have expressed their concerns about inflation

Bank of England, England

Pedestrians pass the Bank of England (BOE) in the City of London, UK. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

Bloomberg
By Craig Stirling

Central banks cagey about joining the global interest-rate cutting cycle may reveal themselves this week with a quartet of decisions in advanced economies. 
 
Days after the Federal Reserve pared back projections for US monetary easing this year, policymakers from the UK to Australia are likely to signal that they’re still not convinced enough about disinflation to start lowering borrowing costs themselves.

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Such outcomes would reaffirm how June, originally penciled in as a month-long opening ceremony to a series of global rate cuts, may increasingly turn out to be a widespread display of hesitancy.

While Canada did deliver the first such move of the Group of Seven on June 5, the European Central Bank’s reduction in borrowing costs a day later, accompanied by a higher inflation projection, showed limited enthusiasm for further easing.

At the Bank of England on Thursday, a looming election and some lingering price pressures are adding to the case to wait at least until August before cutting rates.

Peers in Australia and Norway, also meeting this week, are in no rush to do so either, while half of economists surveyed reckon the Swiss National Bank may avoid a second reduction for now following its bold move in March to ease before its neighbors.

Decisions elsewhere may showcase the different stages of global monetary cycles, with Brazil and Paraguay expected to keep borrowing costs on hold, and Chile anticipated to slow rate cuts. 

What Bloomberg Economics Says:
“Major central banks look set to keep interest rates on hold, having looked more likely to cut only a few weeks ago. The BOE is almost certain to keep policy unchanged in June ahead of the UK election. It’s a closer call for the SNB.”

—For full analysis, click here

Elsewhere, US retail sales, a raft of Chinese data, and inflation numbers from the UK and Japan will be among highlights for investors this week. 

Click here for what happened last week and below is our wrap of what is coming up in the global economy.

US and Canada
A week after a series of reports showed moderating US inflationary pressures, investors will get a look at fresh figures on consumer demand, the housing market and industrial production. Fed officials also return to the public-speaking circuit after penciling in just one rate cut for 2024.

Policymakers speaking this week include Thomas Barkin, Susan Collins, Lisa Cook, Mary Daly, Austan Goolsbee, Patrick Harker, Neel Kashkari, Adriana Kugler, Lorie Logan, Alberto Musalem and John Williams.

Retail sales figures out Tuesday are projected to show shoppers reengaged somewhat in May after pulling back a month earlier, underscoring a resilient consumer. Separate data are seen showing an increase in production at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities.

On Thursday, housing starts data may show a modest increase in May construction from a month earlier as builders adjust to swings in underlying demand while staying diligent on inventories. 

A limited number of listings in the resale market, along with the recent rise in mortgage rates, is taking a toll on sales of existing homes. On Friday, the National Association of Realtors is projected to report another decline in previously owned home sales.

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Looking north, the Bank of Canada will release a summary of the deliberations that led it to cut rates this month, providing further insight into how policymakers reached the decision and the conditions for a rate cut at their next meeting July 24. 

Statistics Canada will publish population estimates for the first quarter, and retail sales data will also offer new insight into the strength of the Canadian consumer.


Asia
The week in Asia kicks off with China’s monthly deluge of data on Monday. The figures are likely show gains in industrial output and retail sales in May were slightly below the year-to-date pace, while the increase in fixed asset investment held steady at 4.2 per cent and the drop in property investment deepened a tad. 

A day later, the Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to hold its cash rate target at 4.35 per cent, with focus falling on how authorities view the inflation trajectory after consumer price growth unexpectedly picked up in April. 

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The slowing pace of disinflation could potentially delay a pivot to rate cuts or spur another hike, according to Bloomberg Economics. 

Japan’s key price gauge is expected to show consumer inflation accelerated to 2.6 per cent in May, keeping the Bank of Japan on track for a rate hike as early as next month. 

New Zealand’s economic growth may have edged back into positive territory in the first quarter after two straight periods of modest contractions. 

Japan trade data on Wednesday may show growth in exports accelerated in May to the fastest clip since November of 2022. 

Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Indonesia also get trade statistics. The week concludes with a blast of PMI figures for Australia, Japan and India. 

Europe, Middle East, Africa
In the UK, consumer-price numbers on the eve of Thursday’s BOE decision may draw the focus on investors. That report could show inflation reaching the 2 per cent target for the first time in almost three years. 

But with the underlying so-called core gauge likely to come in above 3 per cent and an election campaign under way, economists predict that policymakers will keep borrowing costs on hold. Their forthcoming decision in August, featuring new forecasts, may offer a more opportune moment to begin cutting rates. 

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The SNB decision will also take place on Thursday. Economists are evenly split on whether or not officials will lower borrowing costs in their second consecutive quarterly reduction. Keeping them on hold would guard against any acceleration in inflation and avoid a depreciation of the franc. 

The same day, Norway’s central bank is widely expected to keep its rate at 4.5 per cent for the fifth straight meeting. Investors may focus on how much improving economic activity and higher wage pressure will delay plans to reduce borrowing costs, with some suggesting no action until next year.

Turning east, Hungary is preparing wrap up its more than year-long monetary easing cycle, though the slide in the forint may narrow or eliminate the central bank’s room to deliver one last cut in the European Union’s highest key rate. That’s on Tuesday.

In the euro zone, the data highlight is likely to be the latest set of purchasing manager indexes for June, released on Friday, which may indicate whether or not the region’s economic pickup is gaining momentum. 

ECB officials scheduled to speak include President Christine Lagarde and Chief Economist Philip Lane on Monday, and Vice President Luis de Guindos on Tuesday.

Another key event, taking place against the backdrop of last week’s market turmoil afflicting France, will be the release of the European Commission’s verdict on Wednesday admonishing countries in the region for breaching its 3 per cent deficit limit. 

Financial turbulence is likely to be a topic when euro-zone finance ministers meet in Luxembourg later in the week. 

Further afield in the region: in South Africa on Wednesday, inflation is forecast to have remained steady at 5.2 per cent in May. Meanwhile neighboring Namibia is set to maintain its rate at 7.75 per cent amid quickening consumer price growth and to safeguard its currency peg with the rand.

Latin America
Chile’s central bank on Tuesday will likely trim its key lending rate for an eighth straight meeting though they may slow the pace of easing and deliver a quarter-point cut to 5.75 per cent.

Policymakers in Paraguay also meet this week and may opt to keep their key rate unchanged at 6 per cent for a third straight meeting after consumer prices accelerated to 4.4 per cent in May from 4 per cent in April.

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In Mexico, much of the focus will be on the presidential transition from Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to Claudia Sheinbaum and potential policy implications that have rattled investors.

The weakness seen in the March retail sales and GDP-proxy data can be expected to extend into the April reports posted this week

Colombia’s economy rebounded less than expected in the first quarter while posting negative month-on-month GDP-proxy prints in February and March. The April data due this week may show activity rebounded at the start of the second quarter.

In Brazil, the central bank on Wednesday may well draw the line under its 325 basis-point easing cycle and keep the benchmark Selic at 10.5 per cent amid unmoored inflation expectations and mounting government spending concerns.

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Analysts now see the key rate at 10.25 per cent come year-end 2024, representing a 125 basis-point increase in the rate forecast since March, while the swaps market is now actually pricing in tightening toward year-end.


WHAT THE NEXT WEEK HOLDS

- US: Retail sales figures out Tuesday are projected to show shoppers reengaged in May

- China: The figures, out on Monday, are likely show gains in industrial output and retail sales

- Australia: The Central Bank is expected to hold its cash rate target at 4.35% on Tuesday

- Japan: Consumer inflation may accelerated to 2.6% on Wednesday

- UK: Data on Wednesday may see inflation reaching the 2% target for the first time in almost three years

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First Published: Jun 16 2024 | 6:51 AM IST

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