CNBC Daily Open: Investors shrugged off a hawkish Fed and hot PPI

Jerome Powell, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, during a roundtable event in York, Pennsylvania, US, on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.

Ryan Collerd | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This report is from today’s CNBC Daily Open, our new, international markets newsletter. CNBC Daily Open brings investors up to speed on everything they need to know, no matter where they are. Like what you see? You can subscribe here.

What you need to know today

‘Policy should remain restrictive’
Federal Reserve officials were divided over the necessity of an additional interest rate increase, minutes of the central bank’s September meeting revealed. But they were unanimous on two points. First, they could “proceed carefully” on future decisions; second, that “policy should remain restrictive for some time until the Committee is confident that inflation is moving down sustainably toward its objective.”

Producer prices increased unexpectedly
The U.S. producer price index rose 0.5% for September, more than the expected 0.3% — but still lower than August’s 0.7% increase. On a yearly basis, producer prices increased 2.2%, the largest move since April and a tick above the Fed’s 2% inflation target. Core PPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.3% for the month.

Fourth straight winning session
U.S. markets rose Wednesday. All major indexes closed higher for the fourth consecutive session as Treasury yields pulled back slightly. Europe’s Stoxx 600 index inched up 0.15%. Shares of LVMH slipped 6.46% after the company reported third-quarter revenue grew 9% year on year, a sharp drop from 17% last quarter.

Exxon Mobil buys shale giant
Exxon Mobil has agreed to buy Pioneer Natural Resources, a big player in the shale industry, for $59.5 billion. The agreement’s structured as all-stock deal, which works out to $253 per share. This is Exxon’s biggest acquisition since buying Mobil in 1999 for about $75.3 billion at that time. Exxon’s production in the Permian Basin would more than double to 1.3 million barrels per day once the deal closes next year.

[PRO] What’s the SEC doing?
CNBC’s Bob Pisani is in Washington for the annual meeting of the Security Traders Association. There’s one theme dominating the conference this year: Trying to figure out what the Securities and Exchange Commission is doing — and how its actions will affect the future of the trading industry.

The bottom line

Investors shrugged off Fed minutes that tilted hawkish and a hotter-than-expected PPI report to give markets a fourth consecutive winning session.  

Though there were differences in opinion whether the Fed should hike rates one more time, Fed officials who were in favor of a hike outnumbered those who weren’t. “A majority of participants judged that one more increase in the target federal funds rate at a future meeting would likely be appropriate, while some judged it likely that no further increases would be warranted,” stated minutes of the Fed’s September meeting, with my emphases added.

Chief among Fed members’ concerns was that “policy should remain restrictive for some time until the Committee is confident that inflation is moving down sustainably toward its objective.”

Unfortunately, September’s PPI report came in surprisingly hot. It’s true the PPI report focuses on producer prices, while the Fed tends to scrutinize the consumer side of the equation more. But the PPI, by charting inflation from the perspective of goods producers and service suppliers, serves as a leading indicator of where consumer prices will be in the future.

Hence, even if September’s consumer price index, which comes out later today, shows cooling prices, a hot PPI might persuade Fed officials that inflation isn’t exactly “moving down sustainably,” and compel them to keep policy higher for longer.  

“I think the overall trend of PPI, CPI and today’s Fed minutes are going to push the 10-year Treasury yield higher over the coming months,” said Derek Schug, head of portfolio management at Kestra Investment Management.

But investors weren’t fazed. Notably, yields on U.S. Treasurys actually fell — the 10-year note’s yielding 4.558%, compared with last Friday’s 4.782% — despite the prospect of higher-for-longer rates to combat stubborn inflation.

The S&P 500 rose 0.43%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.19% and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.71%, closing above its 50-day moving average for the first time in almost a month.

Investors could be feeling defiant — or wanting to seize the opportunity to snap up stocks at relatively cheaper prices — after September’s stocks slump. As long as the CPI print doesn’t give too unpleasant a surprise, this optimism might just continue.

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Source: CNBC