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Wall Street wants clarity from Fed meeting and jobs data

<i>Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images</i><br/>Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 26
Getty Images
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on April 26

By Krystal Hur, CNN

After a jam-packed week of earnings, bank drama and mixed inflation data, Wall Street doesn’t have time for a breather just yet.

A slate of economic events and data are on deck for next week. In the spotlight are the Federal Reserve’s May meeting and the April jobs report.

What’s expected from the Fed? Analysts expect the central bank to raise rates by a quarter point on Wednesday, and will look for guidance about the Fed’s plans for the rest of the year.

Inflation data has been mixed in recent days. The Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, the Fed’s favorite inflation gauge, rose 4.2% for the 12 months ended in March. That’s down from an upwardly revised 5.1% in February, and suggests that the central bank’s aggressive interest rate hike campaign is helping stabilize prices.

Core PCE growth also eased, though the slowdown was far more subdued, up 4.6% for the year from February’s 4.7% growth rate.

But compensation for US workers grew in the first three months of the year, according to the Employment Cost Index. That signals that wage inflation, a major headache for the Fed in its fight against inflation, remains sticky.

Central bank officials watch the report closely, since high labor costs can be a driver of inflation. Businesses tend to raise compensation to hire and retain workers during a tight labor market, and pass on those costs to consumers by raising prices for goods and services.

“The Fed is stuck between raising interest rates and likely pushing the economy into a recession on the one hand, or pausing on the other hand and risk that inflation reaccelerates if the economy regains momentum and momentum in sticky prices stays high,” said Bill Adams, chief economist at Comerica Bank.

Rising prices aren’t the only concern facing the economy.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will likely face questions about credit conditions, in addition to the central bank’s inflation strategy. While Wall Street appeared to believe the banking turmoil was largely contained last month, after interventions from the federal government and big banks, the tumult in First Republic Bank last week revived those fears. Concerns that tightening credit standards could help push the economy into a recession have also revved up.

Another point of concern is the labor market. While it has remained historically strong during the course of the Fed’s interest rate hikes, it started showing signs of cooling in March. That suggests that the Fed’s dual mandate to stabilize prices while keeping unemployment rates at a minimum could get even more complicated.

What’s at stake with the April jobs report: Economists expect the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April jobs print to show slower employment growth last month and a rising unemployment rate. US employers added just 236,000 jobs in March, below expectations, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%. Next month’s report could reveal whether the cooldown is a trend starting to form, or a blip.

FDIC releases its review of Signature Bank failure

Signature Bank failed due to “poor management,” the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said in a widely anticipated report released Friday.

The government agency said that contagion effects from Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse and crypto-friendly lender Silvergate Bank’s self-liquidation was not the cause for Signature Bank’s failure, though it did help fuel a run on deposits.

Bank management took on crypto deposits — enough to total over 20% of Signature’s total deposits — without understanding the magnitude of taking on that risk, the report said.

“When that industry started to turn and interest rates started to rise, those deposits started leaving the bank,” Marshall Gentry, chief risk officer at the FDIC, said on a call with reporters Friday. “Even though they were crypto cash deposits, it was a traditional kind of bank run.”

The FDIC also admitted that it didn’t provide Signature Bank with adequate and timely reviews prior to the bank failures, citing staffing shortages between 2017 and 2023 at the government agency.

Read more here.

Up next

Monday: April ISM manufacturing

Tuesday: March JOLTS report. Earnings reports from Pfizer (PFE), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Starbucks (SBUX), Uber (UBER) and Ford (F).

Wednesday: Federal Reserve interest rate decision, Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference and April ADP private payroll report. Earnings reports from Qualcomm (QCOM), CVS Health (CVS), Stellantis (STLA) and Kraft Heinz (KHC).

Thursday: Mortgage rates and jobless claims. Earnings reports from Apple (AAPL) and Anheuser-Busch (BUD).

Friday: April jobs report and March consumer credit.

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