Markets Update – December 2022


Global equities finished the month higher (+3.3%) as longer dated bond yields drifted lower, the US dollar sold off aggressively and China inched closer to reopening. The beginning of the month was all about central banks. Norway raised rates by 25bp rather than the 50bp expected, and the Bank of England raised rates by the expected 75bp but said that it expected rates to “peak at a lower level than implied by financial markets”, concern about economic growth and not just inflation driving some caution. The decision was not unanimous, one member voting for 50bp, and another voting for just 25. The main event however was the Federal Reserve, the 75bp (as expected) hike being accompanied by a dovish statement and a unanimous decision. The dovish element of the statement acknowledged that for future rate hikes “the Committee will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments.” The take-away from this is that the next move in December is 50bp unless data strengthens from here, or possibly 25bp if it slows materially. Jay Powell’s press conference however put paid to any thoughts of dovishness from the Fed. While he acknowledged the slowdown in interest rate sensitive sectors of the economy, he argued that the employment market remained very tight and that further rate hikes, while they may be slower, were inevitable, and the terminal rate was likely higher than the estimates put forward by Fed officials (just 6 previously, during which time we have had further confirmation of and an acceleration of the slowdown in housing). When asked about the recent positive contribution of shelter costs to the CPI figures at a time when house prices and rents are falling (half of the inflation over the last three months has been shelter related) he argued that the owners’ equivalent rent was merely catching up with what rents did six months ago