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Economic Update: June 10, 2024

Posted June 10, 2024 at 10:00 am
J.P. Morgan Asset Management

Growth

The U.S. economy grew 1.3% q/q saar in 1Q24, falling short of expectations for 2.5% growth. That said, weakness at the headline level masked some of the underlying strength in the report. Consumer spending rose by a downwardly revised 2.0% as spending on services more than offset a decline in goods spending, while the volatile trade and inventories components detracted from growth. However, real final sales to private domestic purchasers, which exclude these volatile segments, rose by a solid 2.8%. Economic growth should continue to moderate during the balance of this year, although this report likely masks recent economic momentum.

Jobs

The April Jobs report was softer than expected and provided a welcome reassurance that the labor market is not adding to inflationary pressures. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 175K, below expectations of 220K, with a net downward revision of 22K applied to February and March. The economy added jobs to where it needed them the most, such as health care and social assistance while government hiring, which had been a strong source of hiring in the past year, slowed. In the household survey, the labor force was mostly unchanged, and the unemployment rate moved up slightly to 3.9%. Elsewhere, wage growth rose to 0.2% m/m and moderated to 3.9% y/y. This marks the softest y/y increase in wages since June 2021. Overall, the labor market continues to show healthy job growth without renewing concerns about inflation.

Profits

The 1Q24 earnings season is winding down. With 98.2% of market cap having reported, our current estimate for S&P 500 operating earnings per share (EPS) is $55.00. If realized, this would represent growth of 4.7% y/y and 2.0% q/q. Across sectors, information technology and communication services are expected to have another strong quarter, while resilient consumer demand should support the consumer discretionary sector. Elsewhere, energy, materials and health care are expected to see earnings fall. Revenues, supported by resilient economic activity and solid inflation, are expected to be the largest contributor to operating earnings growth, although margins will play an increasingly important role as momentum slows.

Inflation

The April CPI report showed a small but welcome moderation in inflation. Headline CPI rose 0.3% m/m and 3.4% y/y, while the core measure rose 0.3% m/m and 3.6% y/y. Energy prices rose due to a 2.8% m/m increase in gasoline prices, which, along with a 0.4% m/m increase in shelter, contributed over 70% of this month’s headline inflation. Core goods disinflation continued, as lower vehicle prices offset higher apparel prices. Core services inflation, boosted by auto insurance, remained elevated, although its 3-month annualized run rate fell to 6.3%. Elsewhere, headline and core PCE both held steady at 2.7% and 2.8% y/y, respectively. Overall, this report gives the Fed little reason to change its recent messaging. As the Fed remains on pause, easing pressure from shelter and auto insurance should allow inflation to slowly descend through the summer.

Rates

At its May meeting, the FOMC voted to hold rates steady at 5.25%-5.50% for a sixth consecutive meeting and announced a slower pace of quantitative tightening beginning in June. It cut the monthly cap on Treasuries from $60 billion to $25 billion and left the $35 billion cap on agency mortgage-backed securities unchanged. During the press conference, Chairman Powell noted the recent stalling on disinflation progress but maintained his bias toward cutting. The timing of rate cuts will likely depend on the inflation and growth data between now and the June and September meetings.

Risks

  • Stalling progress on disinflation could delay rate cuts, presenting challenges to both stocks and bonds.
  • A slow-moving economy is more vulnerable to any kind of shock.
  • Elevated valuations in some parts of the market may lead to volatility and market corrections.

Investment Themes

  • Fixed income offers attractive levels of income and protection against an economic downturn.
  • Broadening profit leadership and reasonable valuations should present opportunities outside of the Magnificent 7.
  • Long-term growth prospects and improving fundamentals should support international equities.

This weekly update provides a snapshot of changes in the economy and markets and their implications for investors.

Originally Posted June 10, 2024 – Economic Update

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