Despite the highest US inflation print in 30 years sparking concerns of a faster rate of monetary policy tightening, US stockmarkets closed last week, just below fresh record highs.
In volatile trading, the ASX200 staged an impressive recovery on Friday to finish the week just 0.2 per cent lower at 7443, courtesy of a 4.7 per cent rally in the resources sector.
Here are the top five things to watch in markets this week.
1. US September-quarter earnings season
This week will see earnings reports from big US retailers Walmart (WMT), Home Depot (HD), Target (TGT) and Macy’s (M).
The reports may provide early insights into how high inflation is altering consumer behaviour as rises in day-to-day costs, including food and gasoline, strain American household budgets.
2. RBA communique and meeting minutes
The release on Tuesday morning of the minutes for the Reserve Bank’s November Board meeting will be followed soon after by a speech by RBA governor Philip Lowe to an Australian Business Economists event titled Recent Trends in Inflation.
The message from the RBA is likely to remain dovish, and that interest rate hikes are unlikely to commence until 2024 or late 2023 at the earliest.
3. Australian wages growth to remain sluggish
The RBA has noted that inflation is unlikely to see a sustainable return to its 2 to 3 per cent target range without “wages growth that is materially higher than it is currently”.
However, due to the impact of lockdowns in the third quarter, the Wage Price Index is expected to lift only modestly by 0.5 per cent quarter on quarter, taking the annual pace to 2.2 per cent – which is still well short of the 3 per cent rate targeted by the RBA.
The ABS will publish September’s Wage Price Index on Wednesday.
4. Energy prices to fall?
Following OPEC+’s refusal to increase supply and US inflation surging to its highest level since 1990, US President Joe Biden said reversing the trend of higher oil prices “is his top priority”.
The threat of the US administration releasing supplies from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) of 613 million barrels saw crude oil futures finish 1 per cent lower on Friday, near $80.70.
5. Can the price of gold continue to march higher?
Gold closed on Friday at $1864, up 2.57 per cent for the week, at its highest level in five months, supported by rising inflation and negative real interest rates.
Can gold continue to make strides towards the $1916 level it last traded in late May?
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