TRADING THE WEEK: Low Inflation Data Could Halt Fed Hikes
Low inflation and modest job growth – two things that now might have given the Federal Reserve reason to pause in its plan to raise interest rates this year.
Trading has been a fairy established range, staying closer to the highs as investors have been reluctant to sell. Activity was reported modest as the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s Volatility Index shot up 44% to its highest level since Nov. 8 at the close of trading last Thursday. The number of puts and calls traded that day hit a record 2.6 million.
“It’s been a quiet summer but there is some business getting done, as volatility ticked up and guys are setting up for the last two weeks of summer and vacations,” said a New York floor trader.
Looking at the data, the Labor Department reported consumer prices edged up 0.1 percent in July following no gain in June. Inflation has risen 1.7 percent over the past 12 months, indicating there is no real inflation pressure that could hurt the economy. This, some said, could limit the Fed’s desire to raise interest rates again this year as it had previously stated it wanted to.
“They (the Fed) will have to see some spurt in the inflation data to get that third rate hike in,” the floor trader said.
William Mingoine, Head of Equities at Drexel Hamilton in New York agreed that the benign inflation numbers are indeed weak, putting rate raises in question.
“U.S. Treasuries were higher last week in a flight to quality trade,” Mingione said. “The Korean tensions have sent the VIX to a 9- month high. It was an interesting week to say the least. Markets have traded on the Trump Administration goals coming to any sort of fruition but some of the optimism is settling down and causing the equity markets to continue to sell off.”
And though the markets were a bit weaker, he added that record high U.S. corporate earnings are allowing the valuations to also move higher to record highs.
“The selloff we are seeing is not shocking as Korean tensions continue to mount,” he said. “The tech space is leading the charge sending the Nasdaq to its worst three-day slide since November.”
Looking back at last week, trading volume was 6.38 billion shares, off slightly from the 6.58 billion shares reported two weeks ago, according to BATS Global Markets.
This week Mingione said the markets can look forward to a few economic numbers such as GDP, jobless claims and the FOMC Minutes from July policy meeting but little else. He expects more market meandering than much else.
“I don’t expect any of these economic data points to influence the market as the geopolitical issues will continue to dominate the market through next week,” Mingione concluded.
In other market news, stock exchanges dominate the headlines last week. First, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, has delayed until further notice the motion to allow the Chicago Stock Exchange to be sold to North America Casin Holdings. Clayton, in a statement, said the entire full commission needs to review the potential sale to the foreign investors. CHX remains optimistic the sale will go through.
Also, Investors Exchange (IEX) just took one more step towards becoming a listings exchange. Regulators approved IEX’s application/request to conduct opening and closing auctions. This is a crucial step for the exchange as it seeks to attract companies and become the listing exchange of public record for them. That exchange would be known as IEX Listings, according to IEX.
“We’re pleased that the SEC has approved our auctions, another step towards launching IEX Listings,” Sara Furber, Head of IEX Listings told Traders Magazine. “Our design reflects feedback from investors, companies and brokers on how to design auctions that work better for them.”
Thirdly, BATS Global Markets, a unit of CBOE Holdings, responded to the recent criticisms of its proposal to have closing auctions, from its biggest rivals NYSE and Nasdaq. BATS, according to a report from Reuters, filed a letter with regulators calling the protests disingenuous.
Back in May, BATS announced it planned to offer broker dealers a new order type that would give them the same closing prices derived from the closing auctions on Nasdaq and the NYSE for stocks listed on those exchanges, but at a discount. The goal – reducing fees for its participants – as well as grab market share from its rivals NYSE and Nasdaq.
NYSE and Nasdaq have argued that BATS’ closing auctions would cut into their own business and provide the market and investors with inferior prices. It would also hurt NYSE and Nasdaq shareholders, they continued.
“We find their sincerity about this concern quite lacking given they run this risk every day,” Reuters reported, citing a BATS letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dated Aug. 2.
If the SEC approves BATS’ proposal, it would allow the exchange operator to compete for a bigger share of the trillions of dollars in trades at the end of the session, when fund managers execute most of their orders so they can price their assets off final prices on the listing exchanges.
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Redbook Retail Sales
Import Export Prices
Empire State Mfg Index
Philadelphia Fed Business Survey
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