Market Outlook: Higher (and Hotter) for Longer? What the Fed’s Path Ahead Means for Commodities

The U.S. Federal Reserve's actions have undoubtedly had a significant impact on the economy with actions involving higher-for-longer interest rates to a reduced balance sheet – as the national debt continues to swell, posing a risk to credit markets.

To further understand the Fed’s monetary policy effects, StoneX’s Chief Commodities Economist, Arlan Suderman, dove into several economic indicators worth looking into: The latest CPI print and the monthly WASDE report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Here’s what Suderman said he is watching closely, including the potential for a hot and humid Midwest and whether inflation will cool enough for the Fed to begin easing.

Decision Time

The Federal Reserve’s updated dot plot on June 12th pointed to a single rate cut of 25 basis points in 2024, quite a shift from forecasts released in March, where it projected three cuts.

With the U.S. national debt at levels exceeding $34 trillion and growing, the potential for problems in the credit market lingers.

“They (Fed officials) say the most likely next move will be a rate cut. There's nothing in the economy right now, pushing them to do a rate cut,” Suderman said, pointing to the latest last mile of bringing inflation down to the central bank’s target of 2%.

While one may think inflation will continue to cool, nothing is certain. There is also a risk of reinflation – as a strong U.S. dollar adds near-term headwinds alongside fiscal decisions from Capitol Hill and ongoing geopolitical tensions in the world.

“We’re seeing a lot of ebb and flow right now in this transition period between funds who think that inflation is coming back and those who think that it’s going to continue to trend lower,” Suderman said.

Cruel Summer

Weather forecasts driving varying market scenarios lie ahead for summer 2024.

One aspect worth paying close attention to is a stretch of heat expected to affect the waters surrounding the Gulf of Alaska, which would set up high pressure in the Southwest and lead to cluster storms across the Midwest.

There is not yet evidence of immunity to weather problems this summer, Suderman notes, adding that more clues are expected to come in the weeks ahead, such as the annual Acreage and quarterly Grain Stocks reports to be released on June 28.

The outlook for crops is mixed, having seen improved soil profiles despite dry pockets and raised yield estimates from the USDA amid production estimates for corn and wheat flat, while soybeans face slowing exports and buyer hesitation.

What Comes Next?

While monetary policy and weather are carefully monitored, additional factors are also under the spotlight, such as the Black Sea Grain Initiative amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Another issue closely followed is Brazil’s currency fluctuations as new tax laws are to be introduced to its economy.

Looking ahead to the July WASDE report and crop production numbers, Suderman notes the data would likely provide further clarity on the amount of lost production from Ukraine.

Overall, the theme of commodity deflation is “ebbing and flowing,” he said.

Watch Arlan’s Full Webinar On-Demand

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This material should be construed as market commentary and represents the opinions and viewpoints of the author, and does not reflect tailored advice associated with any specific account of the FCM Division of StoneX Financial Inc. ("SFI") (NFA ID: 0476094) or StoneX Markets LLC ("SXM") (NFA ID: 0449652). The information herein is not advice nor a recommendation to trade nor an offer to buy or sell any financial product or service. Additionally, this material should not be construed as research material. The trading of derivatives such as futures, options, and over-the-counter (OTC) products or “swaps” may not be suitable for all investors. Derivatives trading involves substantial risk of loss, and you should fully understand the risks prior to trading. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results.

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