Standard Chartered Warns of Reality Check for 'Goldilocks' Rally

  • In Business
  • 2023-01-30 06:12:20Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- From stocks to corporate credit markets, investors are indulging in wishful thinking by bidding up prices of risky assets on wagers that central banks will engineer a soft economic landing.

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That's the view of Eric Robertsen, the global head of research and chief strategist for Standard Chartered Plc, who suggests this year's rally is due to pause.

While Standard Chartered is among the overwhelming majority of forecasters in projecting a slowdown in the pace of rate hikes by the Federal Open Market Committee this week, Robertsen is concerned by traders positioning for the Fed to deliver nearly 150 basis points of cuts in the year from June - which could rapidly unwind.

He sees the same kind of unfounded optimism in global stocks rising more than 7% already in 2023.

"The recovery in risky assets appears dependent on a tenuous balancing act - growth and inflation soft enough to stop the FOMC rate hikes, but not so soft as to ring alarm bells about growth and profits," Robertsen wrote in a note dated Sunday. "Expectations for a Goldilocks scenario are too hopeful."

A drop in volatility gauges belies real-time indicators such as US business sentiment surveys showing a loss of economic momentum, he said, adding that the headwinds are yet to register in the US labor market.

This week is likely to test these opposing views, with the Fed meeting on Wednesday to be followed a day later by decisions from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England. Earlier in the week are industrial profits and PMI figures for China, with Friday rounding things out with data for US unemployment and nonfarm payrolls.

It will be "one of the biggest weeks of absolute tier 1 event risk in recent memory," said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone Group Ltd. "Despite this the markets are showing few signs of nerves," added Weston, who remains upbeat, but has a wary eye on rising commodity prices.

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