Higher US bond yields and the USD halted Wall Street
Higher US bond yields and a stronger USD dragged down Wall Street futures on Monday. Higher bond yields, i.e. higher borrowing costs, are generally negative for corporate profitability, whereas a stronger dollar is unfavourable for export-oriented US MNCs, particularly tech companies. After a slight reversal from about +3.203 percent to +2.706 percent in May, the US 10Y bond yield broke +3.00 percent again on Monday. Higher inflation and faster/larger Fed tightening, combined with diminishing chances of a September pause following a better-than-expected May NFP job report and comments by Fed’s Mester on Friday, drove up US bond yields.
In addition, due to the rising policy divergence between the Fed and the BOJ, the USDJPY surged to about 131.68, its highest level since 2002. In April, Japan’s headline CPI (inflation) increased by 2.5 percent, the highest level since October 2014. In April, Japan’s core CPI, which excludes fresh food but includes gasoline expenses, jumped to +2.1 percent, the highest level in more than seven years. However, Japan’s core-core CPI, which excludes both fresh food and fuel expenses and is similar to the standard/US/European version of core CPI, was just +0.8 percent in April, nearly two years high.
Overall inflation in Japan has risen in recent months as a result of Yen depreciation (which is good for imported inflation), higher commodities, such as imported oil and gas, and higher raw material costs. In contrast to the standard core CPI, which excludes both food and fuel prices, BOJ officially follows core CPI, which excludes only fresh foods and not fuel costs. Although Japan’s core CPI rose above the BOJ’s target of +2.0 percent in April after rising for the eighth consecutive month (unusual in Japan) and accelerating from a 0.8 percent increase in March, on average, it’s still well below 2% in recent months after months of negative prints as the Japanese economy has been in decades of structural deflation/depression or even occasional recession for various reasons and past policy mistakes by the BOJ.
In any case, Japan’s core-core CPI, which is nearly identical to normal core CPI, remains far below the BOJ’s sustainable target of +2.0 percent. In any case, the BOJ wants a stable 2% core CPI (Japanese translation) underpinned by substantial wage growth, which is still lacking, according to the BOJ. Sluggish wage growth, on the other hand, makes it more difficult for businesses to pass on higher prices to consumers, resulting in a deflationary cycle that runs counter to the US economy.
As a result, the BOJ is unable to adjust its QQE policy, resulting in significant policy divergence not only with the Fed, but also with the ECB, which has been jawboning for an unusually uber-hawkish stance in recent months in order to contain inflation expectations.