Fed’s Powell Testifies as Inflation, Hiring Cool


(Bloomberg) — Jerome Powell is likely to tell lawmakers that Federal Reserve officials need further confirmation inflation is slowing before they’re in a position to cut interest rates, even with evidence building of softer growth and employment.

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June consumer price index data are projected to be another step toward that goal, but the figures are only set for release on Thursday — after the Fed chair wraps up two days of Congressional testimony. Powell speaks Tuesday to the Senate Banking Committee, followed by a House panel appearance on Wednesday.

With fresh data showing the highest unemployment rate since late 2021, and other figures illustrating weaker economic growth, Powell will likely be pressed harder by some lawmakers on why the Fed is hesitant to lower borrowing costs.

On Tuesday, Powell said recent data suggest inflation is getting back on a downward path, but that he and his colleagues would like to see that progress continue.

The so-called core CPI, which excludes food and energy costs and is seen as a better measure of underlying inflation, is expected to rise 0.2% in June for a second month. That would mark the smallest back-to-back gains since August, a pace more palatable for Fed officials.

The inflation report is also forecast to show a modest 0.1% increase in the overall CPI from a month earlier. Compared with June of last year, the price metric is projected to rise 3.1%, the smallest annual advance in five months.

Meanwhile, Friday’s monthly payrolls report showed that the jobless rate, while still historically low at 4.1%, is creeping higher. Minutes from the Fed’s June policy meeting revealed that several officials flagged the risk that a further slowing in demand could lead to higher unemployment.

Economists on Friday will parse the government’s report on producer prices to assess the impact of certain categories — like portfolio management and health care — that feed into the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the personal consumption expenditures price index.

What Bloomberg Economics Says:

“We expect that soft inflation prints for June, July and August will give the Fed enough confidence to start cutting rates by the time of the September FOMC meeting.”

—Estelle Ou, Stuart Paul, Eliza Winger, Chris G. Collins, and Anna Wong, economists. For full analysis, click here

Further north it’s a light data week, but June home sales on Friday will shed light on whether the Bank of Canada’s rate cut that month jolted the market out of a slumber.

Elsewhere, inflation numbers from China to Sweden and the aftermath of France’s parliamentary election runoff will be among highlights.

Click here for what happened in the past week, and below is our wrap of what’s coming up in the global economy.

Asia

China may get some mildly positive news on prices, with data Wednesday expected to show consumer inflation ticked higher in June and factory-gate deflation eased to the slowest pace since January 2023. Whether that helps buoy manufacturing remains to be seen.

In other data, Japanese figures for workers’ pay on Monday may show real wages sliding for a 26th month in May, casting doubts on the prospects of achieving the virtuous cycle long sought by the Bank of Japan.

Consumer price growth in India may have nudged higher in June, and Australia unveils consumer inflation expectations on Thursday.

Trade statistics are due from China, the Philippines and Taiwan, while Singapore is set to release second-quarter gross domestic product data during the week.

On the policy front, a couple of regional central banks are expected to stand pat, with investors looking ahead to prospects for rate cuts in the second half.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand meets after a weak reading for the composite purchasing managers index pointed to slackening economic growth, possibly opening to door to a cut in the fourth quarter.

The Bank of Korea gathers a week after inflation slowed more than expected, boosting the prospects for pivoting to a reduction in borrowing costs as early as August, according to Bloomberg Economics.

On Friday, Kazakhstan’s central bank will decide whether to follow its rate cut in May with another.

Europe, Middle East, Africa

A focus for investors on Monday will be the aftermath of the French election. While financial-market concerns have eased, the prospect of a hung parliament leading to a minority government that lacks resolve to repair the public finances remains a likely outcome.

In the UK, whose own election led to a landslide victory for Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, investors will be on the lookout for any initial decisions impacting the economy and its own strained fiscal position. Data on Thursday, meanwhile, may show a pickup in growth in May after stagnation the previous month.

European Central Bank policymakers have until the close of play on Wednesday to speak publicly about the upcoming July 18 rate decision before a blackout period kicks in. Amid a sparse calendar, Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel and Executive Board member Piero Cipollone are scheduled to make appearances.

It’s also a quiet week for data in the euro region. German exports on Monday and Italian industrial production numbers on Wednesday are among the highlights.

There’s more on the calendar outside the single currency area, with several June inflation releases scheduled.

  • Hungary on Tuesday, then Norway and the Czech Republic on Wednesday, are all tipped to reveal slowing consumer price growth, albeit still with noticeable margins above 2%.

  • The same day, Russian data may show inflation reached a new 2024 high, underlining the challenge for the central bank. After holding its key rate at 16% so far this year, the Bank of Russia will most likely consider a hike of 100 to 200 basis points at its July meeting, Deputy Governor Alexey Zabotkin said recently.

  • In Egypt on Wednesday, officials will hope inflation slowed for a fourth straight month from its peak of 36% in February, which was just before the central bank raised rates as part of a huge bailout from the International Monetary Fund, the UAE, and others.

  • Also on Wednesday, Ghana’s inflation is forecast to slow for a third straight month – from 23% in May – on favorable base effects. The central bank will still be concerned by a monthly increase in prices that’s expected to quicken because of a slump in the cedi.

  • And on Friday in Sweden, the CPIF gauge of inflation that the Riksbank targets is expected to drop below 2% for the first time in almost three years.

Two central bank decisions of note are due within the wider region:

  • Israel’s monetary policy committee on Monday will likely look past growing inflation pressures and keep the key rate at 4.5% for a fourth straight meeting to aid an economy strained by the war in Gaza and escalating tensions with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

  • On Thursday, Serbia’s central bank makes its monthly decision, where officials may give clues on their next step for the key rate after June’s rate cut, the first in more than three years.

Latin America

Data out on Monday may show consumer prices in Chile accelerated for a third month to push further above target — while more than a year of steady disinflation appears to have stalled in Colombia.

In Mexico, inflation likely pushed higher for a fourth straight month, in no way the “benign CPI data” central bank Deputy Governor Jonathan Heath says the board wants to see before easing again.

Banxico, which next meets in August and has paused at 11% for the last two meetings, posts the minutes of its June 27 decision on Thursday.

Inflation is heating up in Brazil, along with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s temper. Brazil’s leader is fuming over “exaggerated” double-digit interest rates and the central bank’s “nominated by Bolsonaro” president, Roberto Campos Neto. Lula’s verbal broadsides make it harder to control inflation, Campos Neto told Brazil’s Valor newspaper.

A string of single-digit monthly readings in Argentina has the annual inflation rate finally slowing after hitting 289.4% in April. Analysts surveyed by the central bank expect the monthly print on Friday to come in over May’s 4.2% reading.

Peru’s central bank meets Thursday after keeping its key rate at 5.75%. A pick-up in the June headline and core inflation prints may sideline the bank for a second meeting.

–With assistance from Robert Jameson, Laura Dhillon Kane, Tony Halpin, Monique Vanek, Brian Fowler, Paul Wallace and Zoe Schneeweiss.

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