United States: Not Through with 2021 Just Yet
- Inflation is intensifying and consumer activity is cooling, data covering the month of December reveal. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 7.0% year-over-year, the fastest increase in nearly 40 years. Similarly, the Producer Price Index (PPI) was up 9.7% over the year. Meanwhile, retail sales unexpectedly declined 1.9% in the final month of the year.
- Elsewhere, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index edged up to 98.9. Industrial production slipped 0.1%, as supply constraints held down manufacturing production. Consumer sentiment fell to 68.8 in January, the first solid sign that the Omicron surge is weighing on economic activity.
- Next week: Housing Starts (Wednesday), Existing Home Sales (Thursday), Leading Index (Friday)
International: U.K. GDP Advances While Australian Retail Sales Surge
- In the G10, U.K. November GDP rose an encouraging 0.9%, while Australia retail sales rose by 7.3% month-over-month in November, the largest gain since May 2020. In emerging markets, price pressures remain present in Brazil, as December CPI came in higher than expected at 10.06% year-over-year, still well above the Central Bank of Brazil’s 3.5% target for 2022.
- Next week: China GDP (Monday), U.K. CPI (Wednesday), Japan CPI (Friday)
Interest Rate Watch: When Will the Federal Reserve Shrink Its Balance Sheet, and by How Much?
- The outlook for U.S. monetary policy has shifted significantly in recent months. With tighter monetary policy on the horizon, market attention has turned to possible reductions in the Fed’s asset holdings, which total nearly $9 trillion at present, up from $4.2 trillion before the pandemic.
Credit Market Insights: Mortgage Rates Are on the Rise
- According to Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped almost a quarter of a percent this week, rising to 3.45% from 3.22%—the highest level since the pandemic’s onset in March 2020.
Topic of the Week: U.S. Dollar Stumbles to Start the Year
- A hawkish shift from the Fed has not been enough to prevent the U.S. dollar from tumbling to start 2022. Following a year where the broad dollar index (DXY) rose close to 6.5%, in the first few weeks of this year the same index has dropped a little over 1%.