Preparing For The CPI Reading: Market Braces For Volatility

Markets await the highly anticipated September consumer price index data release. A higher CPI could easily take yields higher and risk assets lower.

, Preparing For The CPI Reading: Market Braces For Volatility

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Markets Prepare For CPI Surprise

The U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) data was released on October 12, 2022, a day before the highly anticipated consumer price index release the following morning. In short, it’s not a good sign for those expecting a below-consensus CPI beat. Although headline PPI is coming down, the month-over-month (MoM) growth came in higher than expected at 0.4% (consensus: 0.2%) and the headline annual change came in at 8.5%. PPI has less of an impact on immediate market moves compared to the CPI as it doesn’t account for inflationary costs being passed on to the end consumer. Still, it’s an inflationary measure that gauges if businesses are facing accelerated prices and tends to move in the same direction as CPI.

CPI consensus is 0.2% MoM so an overshoot of even 10 basis points could send the market into another significant downwards move, killing any Federal Reserve pivot hope left. 

, Preparing For The CPI Reading: Market Braces For Volatility
Monthly percentage change in producer price index and consumer price index
, Preparing For The CPI Reading: Market Braces For Volatility
Annual percentage change in producer price index and consumer price index

This is not the only sign in favor of a higher-than-consensus CPI print. Previously, we mentioned the Cleveland Fed Inflation Nowcasting data which projects a 0.32% headline CPI MoM change and 8.2% headline annual change. That said, 17 of the last 19 nowcasting forecast reports were actually under the CPI reading. Recently this tool has been closer than most consensus forecasts but consistently underestimates the actual CPI data. When the more conservative CPI forecasters are predicting a consensus beat, tread cautiously.

Although PPI data can give us an idea of the CPI direction, they don’t move the markets like CPI data has over the last year. A key metric to watch for what the market is thinking is the U.S. 2-year Treasury yield, currently just shy of 4.3%. As of today, the latest upward momentum is stalling and is on pause, which can signal that the market is not quite ready to buy the latest Fed comments on rate hikes to 4.5% until they see the CPI print. 

, Preparing For The CPI Reading: Market Braces For Volatility
2-year Treasury bond yields continue to rise

Where CPI lands relative to consensus is anyone’s guess, but the markets look to be waiting for their next direction until that data comes out. The main medium-term concern, beyond the data, is still that Core CPI will stay at a 5-6% annual growth rate for many months. As it lags heavily, rent inflation is a major component that will likely further increase before turning over. Medical care services is also a component that rose significantly in August and continues to do so as it’s more affected by stickier labor costs that are also rising. Despite oil’s rise over the past two weeks, energy may be less of a short-term factor in the September data as commodities continue to turn over. But the latest oil prices could easily come surging back amid OPEC production cuts and winter shortage demand approaching.

What Does It Mean For Bitcoin?

In our last piece, we emphasized the lack of historical volatility in the bitcoin price right now. This won’t last and the market is wound up for a fairly volatile move one way or the other. The CPI print could easily be that catalyst. If we’re to see a move to the upside, our framework is still that the move will be a temporary rally to blow out leveraged shorts, take liquidity and likely reverse back to the downside. A large CPI surprise could send the market on a trajectory to test a lot of liquidity and stop losses just below $18,000. That’s the surprise CPI bear case. Again, look to the equities market direction to determine the short-term trend.

With all of this said, the game is now patience. As monetary policies continue to prove ineffective and/or completely destructive, bitcoin will still be here. Many will realize it never “died” and it will have a place in the world beyond a high beta correlation.

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, Preparing For The CPI Reading: Market Braces For Volatility