Short-term uncertainties led the IMF to cut its global growth forecast by .2 to a still respectable 3.3% in April. Global central banks tilted dovish in a coordinated fashion following market weakness in December.
Short-term uncertainties led the IMF to cut its global growth forecast by .2 to a still respectable 3.3% in April.
- U.S. –The 3.2% annualized gain in 1Q19 GDP was well above the consensus forecast. However, upside surprises from net trade and inventory building masked weaker personal consumption growth. The growth outlook may still be challenging if these 1Q drivers prove to be temporary. Still, the U.S. economy remains better positioned than Europe, Japan and China. Leading indicators still point toward continued expansion and employment data is consistent with a sound economy, but rates markets suggest the path is not all clear yet.
- Europe –EZ growth momentum has slowed and the outlook remains unclear. External demand continues to be a worry, but consumer and business confidence has weakened and German manufacturing is still contracting. Potential trade issues with the U.S. surroundingauto tariffs still loom and fiscal policy remains uncertain. The ongoing Brexitsaga continues to cloud the European economic growth outlook.
- Japan –The growth outlook remains challenging with leading indicators still signaling a weak activity environment. Downside risks may emerge from protectionist trade measures and softness in other economies of the Asia-Pacific region.
- China –The growth trend is lower, but recent stimulus efforts are starting to take hold and activity data has improved. The key challenge will be to determine whether the rebound is sustainable or further weakness materializes later in the year.
Global central banks tilted dovish in a coordinated fashion following market weakness in December.
- Fed –No plans to hike rates in 2019 with the balance sheet unwind to end in September. Eased financial conditions to offset downside risk.
- ECB –Policy on hold. Assessing how to preserve the positive effects of negative interest rates while mitigating negative impact onbanks.
- BOE –Policy direction still clouded by Brexituncertainty. Bias is toward further tightening, but any policy change should be gradual.
- BOJ –Yield curve control targets remain in tact, but altered forward guidance to keep interest rates at current levels until Spring 2020.
- PBOC –After stimulating, would like to keep monetary policy neutral and assess economic conditions before making any further changes.
Rates markets continue to price in a Fed rate cut for later this year. The 2s/10s UST spread has steepened while 10-year Bund and JGB yields remain mired in negative territory. Global inflation expectations are contained, enabling central banks to be patient with policy moves.
The USD has strengthened as the U.S. economy outperforms and global growth concerns persist. The recent rise in oil prices following the U.S. decision to end waivers on imports from Iran may be short-lived as several production areas are available to fill any potential void. Industrial metals have been range bound recently, a potential signal that may indicate the global growth outlook remains uncertain.
- U.S.-China trade tensions continue to cloud the global growth outlook, but markets are hopeful a resolution is near.
- Brexit uncertainty is still high, although the EU agreed to offer the U.K. an extension until October 31, with a June 3 review at the EU summit. The extension is conditional on the U.K participating in European elections on May 23. A failure to vote would trigger the U.K. departing the EU on June 1. European parliamentary elections in the spring could raise headline risks as populist parties rally support.
- Wild Cards: New Russian sanctions; Iran, auto tariffs; Venezuela