Traders will be closing monitoring both events looking for clues regarding the Fed's next move. As we've seen the past couple of weeks, there's starting to be more and more debate about the Fed's next few moves. A few weeks back the trade gave almost no chance for a 50-basis point rate hike at the March FOMC meeting, now there's starting to be some talk as inflation and wage gains have stayed strong.
Bulls are cautiously celebrating what they view as a return to "disinflation" after the ISM Services Index late last week showed a slowdown in the "Prices Paid" component. One big takeaway from the full report is the increase in delivery times, new orders, and employment, which economists say indicates that the labor situation may be improving.
Thirteen services industries reported growth last month, including agriculture, construction, and retail trade. Only four reported a decline in activity, led by wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and information. The declines fit with trends we've seen across both the consumer and business economies as Americans opt to spend less on goods and more on services, while the tech industry (information) has been hit by the pullback in business spending and overall post-pandemic slide.
Investors are also anxious to see the January Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) on Wednesday which will provide some deeper insights into US labor trends and company hiring needs.
Keep in mind, these are the last two big jobs reports before the Federal Reserve's next meeting on March 21-22. Powell appears before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday. The actual report was released on Friday, in which the bank said it reiterated its strong commitment to getting inflation back to its +2% target rate. The report is mostly a backward looking summary of economic data and Fed policy but does contain some interesting insights.
Notably, the Fed is very focused on the impact of a tight labor market on inflation but the report warns that the country's low labor force participation rate "is likely to remain well below its level from before the pandemic."
Investors will be particularly tuned in to what Powell has to say in regard to recent data indicating the "disinflation" trend has stalled in January.
Today, the only data scheduled is Factory Orders. On the earnings front, Occidental Petroleum and Zoom are the highlights. Investors this week are also anxious to see Bank of Canada's latest policy decision on Wednesday, with many on Wall Street expecting it to become the first major Western central bank to pause rate hikes.
Keep in mind, over the weekend China released a statement that is will aim for an economic expansion of “around +5%” for 2023, this would be its lowest economic target in three decades. Globally, things still seem to be slowing.
Amazon’s Cost-Cutting Binge Claims Another Casualty: Amazon is closing eight cashier-less Amazon Go locations in Seattle, New York, and San Francisco, marking the e-commerce giant’s latest round of cost-cutting amid slowing sales growth. Amazon’s efforts to crack physical retail have been beset with challenges. Besides the latest move to close eight Go locations, the company has shuttered bookstores and novelty shops around the country. Amazon also recently put on hold the expansion of Fresh stores as it evaluates how to make the chain stand out to shoppers.
Your Face Is Now Becoming Your Ticket: More business people are now using their face to open doors for them as they walk into a conference center and, instead of flashing a badge with their name and photo, they positioned themselves in front of a head-height camera, waiting a few seconds for the screen to say, “PLEASE ENTER.” At this year's MWC, the annual tech trade show formerly known as Mobile World Congress, facial-recognition software did all the work. Your visage, too, might already be an entry ticket at a venue near you, as Delta Air Lines Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc., and JetBlue Airways Corp. have ticketless face-scanning boarding systems installed at several airports. Also, this season, all Mets fans can use facial-recognition express lanes previously reserved for season-ticket holders. It sounds both creepy and cool at the same time as facial-recognition access points crop up in more public places including airports and concert venues, leaving many wondering how they should feel about it. GSMA, the industry group that organizes MWC and represents mobile-network operators worldwide, used a facial-recognition service called Breez, developed with ScanVis Ltd., a Hong Kong-based company. The service cross-references attendees’ faces with previously submitted photos from government-issued IDs. Ahead of the event, non-Breez attendees could wait several days to confirm their registration. Signing up with the MWC app which used a phone’s camera to match a face with the image on a passport, took less than a minute. Source WSJ
Walmart, Target, and Other Major Retailers Waging Escalating "Labor Hoarding" War: There's a quiet war being waged among America's largest retailers, and the winner might be the previously under-appreciated hourly worker. Slower sales growth, rising interest rates, and increased uncertainty are compelling companies of all stripes to tighten their operations and hunt for cost savings. Tech employers have shed more than 120,000 workers this year alone – per a count maintained by Layoffs.fyi – in order to boost profitability and satisfy investors, but the word coming out of retail C-suites this past earning season paints a strikingly different picture. Retail executives are saying that the substantial investment in their front-line workforce of recent years is here to stay, and that any cost savings will have to be found elsewhere. Many are even doubling down with billions of dollars in commitments to further improve compensation, extending the ongoing trend of "labor hoarding" in the industry. These companies have plenty of incentive to hoard all the labor they can, as the battle over labor translates directly to the larger war for market share. Source Insider
Fewer Americans Want US Taking Major Role in World Affairs: Sixty-five percent of Americans prefer the U.S. to take the leading (20%) or a major role (45%) in world affairs. This is down from 69% in 2019 and 72% as recently as 2017. The current figure is one percentage point below the prior low from 2011. In almost all years since Gallup first asked the question in 2001, more than seven in 10 Americans have favored a leading or major role for the U.S., including a high of 79% in February 2003. In addition to the current 65% who want the U.S. to take a substantial role in world affairs, 27% prefer a minor role and 7% want it to have no role at all. This is only the second time, along with 2011, when more than 30% wanted the U.S. to take a limited role, if any, in trying to solve international problems. Republicans increasingly want a more limited U.S. role, though this remains the minority view of the party’s supporters. More broadly, Americans remain rather negative about the United States’ international standing, with more dissatisfied than satisfied with the U.S. position in the world, the majority believing world leaders do not respect President Biden, and the public evenly split on whether the international community views the U.S. positively or negatively. Source Gallup
Tesla Recalls Model Y Over Loose Bolts: Tesla said it is recalling 3,470 2022 through 2023 Model Y vehicles in the United States because bolts securing the second-row seatback frames may not have been securely tightened, according to a filing made public Saturday. Tesla told NHTSA it has identified five warranty claims since December that may be related to these conditions. Tesla said it was not aware of any injuries or deaths that may be related to the recall issue. In December, a Tesla supplier implemented improved process controls along with improved training and supervision to ensure bolts are torqued to specifications, the automaker said Source CNBC
Most Americans Have Pandemic Moving Regrets: 2022 was a year that saw massive change. Americans spent two years wading through pandemic lockdowns with no real idea of what life would look like on the other side. They responded en masse by changing major aspects of their lives, including how they work and where they live. Millions of people packed up and left densely populated cities, or simply sought a change in scenery and lifestyle. And while many people didn’t move far, 75% of Americans have regrets about their move, according to a survey from real estate brokerage firm Home Bay. It polled 1,000 Americans about their experience moving within the past year. While most Americans reported approaching their moves during the pandemic with positive emotions, more than 40% say they cried during the moving process. Two of the most common regrets people had were wishing they moved into a bigger home (20%) and simply missing their old home (20%). The hassle of moving and the cost of it were also both high up on the regret list. Those who moved predominantly did so for a better quality of life—24%, Home Bay found. Lots of people also fled costly, heavily populated cities—23% of survey respondents moved for a lower cost of living and home prices. Upsizing was the next biggest reason people decided to move, followed by the flexibility remote work provided and being closer to friends and family. Source Fortune
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