The Tell: ‘We’ve only just begun to see the layoffs and squeezes on profit margins,’ warns Wells Fargo strategist

by | Nov 16, 2022 | Stock Market

The latest rally in U.S. stocks following signs of cooling inflation isn’t likely sustainable, warned Scott Wren, senior global market strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. Instead, Wren sees a lot hanging on a few signs that inflation may be starting to fade, triggering yet another bullish upswing for stocks on expectations that the Federal Reserve will “pivot,” or pause its interest-rate hikes.

“We have seen this happen numerous times over the last few months as economic data has been released,” Wren wrote in a Wednesday client note. But his team said they suspect that if the October consumer-price index “had come in two-tenths (or even one-tenth) above the consensus estimate,” the market response might not have been “as pretty.” The S&P 500 index
SPX,
-0.71%
was trading lower on Wednesday, but still up about 6% from a week ago, according to FactSet data. Looking through a longer lens showed a 10.6% increase for the S&P 500 since a month ago and a 13.2% climb for the Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.01%
over the same stretch. The rate on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.689%
dropped on Wednesday to about 3.7%, after hitting a peak of 4.2% in October. Yields and prices move in opposite directions. “In our view, for a pivot, inflation needs to come down faster, and that’s most likely to happen in a recession,” Wren’s team wrote. “We believe we’ve only just begun to see the layoffs and squeezes on profit margins.” The consumer-price index, a closely watched inflation gauge, pegged the cost of living in the U.S. at 7.7% in October, down from above 9% this summer. Read: Americans have not been this worried about layoffs since April 2020 — and they also see no immediate end to rising prices Layoffs have been most visible at major technology companies, including planned cuts at Facebook parent Meta Platforms
META,
-3.24%
and at Twitter after Tesla
TSLA,
-3.95%
founder Elon Musk’s tumultuous takeover of the company for $44 billion. …

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