President Biden cheered the report in a statement Thursday morning. “For months, doomsayers have been arguing that the U.S. economy is in a recession, and congressional Republicans have been rooting for a downturn,” he said. “But today we got further evidence that our economic recovery is continuing to power forward.”

By one common definition, the U.S. economy entered a recession when it experienced two straight quarters of shrinking G.D.P. at the start of the year. Officially, however, recessions are determined by a group of researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research, who look at a broader array of indicators, including employment, income and spending.

Most analysts don’t believe the economy meets that more formal definition, and the third-quarter numbers — which slightly exceeded forecasters’ expectations — provided further evidence that a recession had not yet begun.

But the overall G.D.P. figures were skewed by the international trade component, which often exhibits big swings from one period to the next. Economists tend to focus on less volatile components, which have showed the recovery steadily losing momentum as the year has progressed. One closely watched measure suggested that private-sector demand stalled out almost completely in the third quarter.

Mortgage rates passed 7 percent on Thursday, their highest level since 2002.

“Housing is just the single largest trigger to additional spending, and it’s not there anymore; it’s going in reverse,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm KPMG. “This has been a stunning turnaround in housing, and when things start to go really quickly, you start to wonder, what are the knock-on effects, what are the spillover effects?”

The third quarter was in some sense a mirror image of the first quarter, when G.D.P. shrank but consumer spending was strong. In both cases, the swings were driven by international trade. Imports, which don’t count toward domestic production figures, soared early this year as the strong economic recovery led Americans to buy more goods from overseas. Exports slumped as the rest of the world recovered more slowly from the pandemic.

Both trends have begun to reverse as American consumers have shifted more of their spending toward services and away from imported goods, and as foreign demand for American-made goods has recovered. Supply-chain disruptions have added to the volatility, leading to big swings in the data from quarter to quarter.

Few economists expect the strong trade figures from the third quarter to continue, especially because the strong dollar will make American goods less attractive overseas.

Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.

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Nasdaq leads Wall St higher on hopes of less-hawkish Federal Reserve

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  • Alphabet, Microsoft and S&P 500 futures dip after the bell
  • Consumer confidence sours, home price growth cools
  • S&P 500 closes 8% above Oct. 12 closing trough
  • Indexes up: Dow 1.07%, S&P 1.63%, Nasdaq 2.25%

NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on Tuesday as soft economic data hinted that the Fed’s aggressive policy is taking effect, while falling benchmark Treasury yields boosted the rally’s momentum.

All three major U.S. stock indexes advanced for the third straight session, with market-leading megacaps providing the most upside muscle. The S&P 500 has reclaimed about 8% from the trough of its Oct. 12 close.

“There’s increasing discussion about a light at the end of the tunnel for Fed rate hikes,” said Bill Merz, head of capital market research at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis. Merz also cautioned that it wouldn’t be known for some time whether decades-high inflation was “decisively headed toward the Fed’s target.”

“We’re seeing a bit of a reprieve in the dollar and long-term bond yields have come down a little bit,” Merz added. “Those factors are combining to provide room for a bit of a rally.”

After the bell, Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) delivered weaker than expected quarterly results, sending their shares down about 7%. That helped push S&P 500 emini futures down almost 1%, suggesting traders expect the stock market to open deep in negative territory on Wednesday.

Yields of 10-year Treasuries pulled pack on hopes that the Federal Reserve could begin easing its battle against inflation.

A mixed brew of earnings and downbeat forecasts, usually a negative for markets, have suggested the barrage of interest rate hikes from the Fed is beginning to be felt, raising expectations that the central bank could pull back on the size of rate hikes after its Nov. 1-2 policy meeting.

Data on Tuesday showed slowing home price growth and souring consumer confidence. Such signs of economic softness, ordinarily unsupportive of risk appetite, are evidence of abating Fed hawkishness.

The financial market is nearly evenly split on whether the central bank’s December rate increase will ease to 50 basis points after a string of 75 basis point hikes, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

People are seen on Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 337.12 points, or 1.07%, to 31,836.74, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 61.77 points, or 1.63%, to 3,859.11 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 246.50 points, or 2.25%, to 11,199.12.

Among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, all but energy (.SPNY) posted gains on the day, with real estate (.SPLRCR) enjoying the largest percentage gain.

Third-quarter reporting season is firing on all pistons, with 129 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 74% have beaten consensus expectations, according to Refinitiv.

Analysts have set the bar low; aggregate S&P 500 earnings growth is now seen landing at 3.3% year-on-year, down from 4.5% at the beginning of the month, per Refinitiv.

Coca-Cola Co rose 2.4% after the company upped its revenue and profit forecasts, banking on steady demand amid price increases.

General Motors (GM.N) reaffirmed its outlook after posting solid earnings, sending its shares jumping 3.6%.

On the downside, aerospace company Raytheon Technologies Corp posted a near 5% annual revenue increase, but its shares slid 1.5% on the company’s trimmed sales outlook.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 5.35-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.67-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 85 new highs and 120 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.89 billion shares, compared with the 11.57 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Amruta Khandekar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru and Noel Randewich in Oakland, Calif.; editing by Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Fed to hike by 75 bps again on Nov. 2, should pause when inflation halves -economists: Reuters poll

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BENGALURU, Oct 25 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve will go for its fourth consecutive 75 basis point interest rate hike on Nov. 2, according to economists polled by Reuters, who said the central bank should not pause until inflation falls to around half its current level.

Its most aggressive tightening cycle in decades has brought with it ever bigger recession risks. The survey also showed a median 65% probability of one within a year, up from 45%.

Still, a strong majority of economists, 86 of 90, predicted policymakers would hike the federal funds rate by three quarters of a percentage point to 3.75%-4.00% next week as inflation remains high and unemployment is near pre-pandemic lows.

Results in the poll are in line with interest rate futures pricing. Only four respondents predicted a 50 basis point move.

“The front-loading of policy rate tightening we have seen up to now has been aimed at getting to a positive real fed funds rate at the start of 2023,” said Jan Groen, chief U.S. macro strategist at TD Securities, referring to rates adjusted for inflation.

“Instead of a pivot, in our view, the Fed is signaling that they foresee shifting from front-loading up to December, towards more of a more grinding pace of hikes from then onward.”

A majority of economists in the Oct. 17-24 poll forecast another 50 basis point hike in December, taking the funds rate to 4.25%-4.50% by end-2022. That matches the Fed’s “dot plot” median projection.

The funds rate was expected to peak at 4.50%-4.75% or higher in Q1 2023, according to 49 of 80 economists. But the risks to that terminal rate were skewed to the upside, according to all but one of the 40 who answered an additional question.

Fed officials have begun contemplating when they should slow the pace of rate hikes as they take stock of their impact given it takes many months for any rate move to take effect.

Asked around what level of sustained inflation the Fed should consider pausing – currently running above 8% according to the consumer price index (CPI) – the median from 22 respondents said 4.4%, according to that measure.

The Fed targets the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, but the survey suggests roughly half the current rate of inflation ought to be a turning point. PCE inflation was forecast above target until 2025 at least.

CPI inflation was not expected to halve until Q2 2023, according to the poll, averaging 8.1%, 3.9% and 2.5% in 2022, 2023 and 2024, respectively.

“Fed officials have indicated that pausing is only possible after ‘clear and compelling’ evidence inflation has moderated,” said Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.

“With the Fed continuing its aggressive tightening to rein in persistent inflation, we expect a moderate recession likely to begin in Q3 next year as the real growth would dip negative and the unemployment rate will rise substantially.”

Next year the economy was expected to expand just 0.4% – a forecast that has been downgraded in each consecutive monthly Reuters poll since the Fed first started hiking in March – after growing 1.7% on average this year.

The unemployment rate was expected to average 3.7% this year before rising to 4.4% and 4.8% in 2023 and 2024, respectively, an upgrade from the previous poll but significantly lower than the highs seen in previous recessions.

Still, the chances of a sharp rise in unemployment in the United States over the coming year were high, according to over half of respondents to an additional question, 23 of 41. Eighteen said the chances were low.

(For other stories from the Reuters global economic poll:)

Reporting by Prerana Bhat; Additional reporting by Indradip Ghosh; Polling by Dhruvi Shah, Vijayalakshmi Srinivasan and Mumal Rathore; Editing by Hari Kishan, Ross Finley and Andrea Ricci

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How Credit Suisse Became a Meme Stock

“Credit Suisse is probably going bankrupt.”

It was Saturday, Oct. 1, and Jim Lewis, who frequently posts on Twitter under the moniker Wall Street Silver, made that assertion to his more than 300,000 followers. “Markets are saying it’s insolvent and probably bust. 2008 moment soon?”

Mr. Lewis was among hundreds of people — many of them amateur investors — who had been speculating about the fate of Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank. It was in the middle of a restructuring and had become an easy target after decades of scandals, failed attempts at reform and management upheavals.

There seemed to be no immediate provocation for Mr. Lewis’s weekend tweet other than a memo that Ulrich Körner, the chief executive of Credit Suisse, had sent employees the day before, reassuring them that the bank was in good financial health.

But the tweet, which has been liked more than 11,000 times and retweeted more than 3,000 times, was one of many that helped ignite a firestorm on social media forums like Twitter and Reddit. The rumor that Credit Suisse was in trouble ricocheted around the world, stumping bank executives and forcing them to call shareholders, trading partners and analysts to reassure them that everything was fine before markets reopened on Monday.

prop up the shares of GameStop, the video game retailer, determined to outsmart hedge funds that had bet the company’s shares would fall.

But what started as a spontaneous effort to take down Wall Street has since become an established presence in the market. Millions of amateur investors have embraced trading, including more sophisticated strategies such as shorting. As the Credit Suisse incident shows, their actions highlight a new source of peril for troubled companies.

Founded in Switzerland in 1856 to help finance the expansion of railroads in the tiny European nation, Credit Suisse has two main units — a private wealth management business and an investment bank. However, the bank has often struggled to maintain a pristine reputation.

It has been the repository of funds from businesspeople who are under sanctions, human rights abusers and intelligence officials. The U.S. government has fined it billions of dollars for its role in helping Americans file false tax returns, marketing mortgage-backed securities tied to the 2008 financial crisis and helping customers in Iran, Sudan and elsewhere breach U.S. sanctions.

In the United States, Credit Suisse built its investment banking business through acquisitions, starting with the 1990 purchase of First Boston. But without a core focus, the bank — whose top bosses sit in Switzerland — has often allowed mavericks to pursue new revenue streams and take outsize risks without adequate supervision.

collapsed. Credit Suisse was one of many Wall Street banks that traded with Archegos, the private investment firm of Bill Hwang, a former star money manager. Yet it lost $5.5 billion, far more than its rivals. The bank later admitted that a “fundamental failure of management and controls” had led to the debacle.

surveillance of Credit Suisse executives under his watch. He left the bank in a stable and profitable condition and invested appropriately across its various divisions, his spokesman, Andy Smith, said.

Credit Suisse replaced Mr. Thiam with Thomas Gottstein, a longtime bank executive. When Archegos collapsed, the bank kept Mr. Gottstein on the job, but he started working with a new chairman, António Horta-Osório, who had been appointed a few months earlier to restructure the bank.

resigned after an inquiry into whether he had broken quarantine rules during the pandemic. But he made swift changes in his short tenure. To reduce risk taking, Mr. Horta-Osório said, the bank would close most of its prime brokerage businesses, which involve lending to big trading firms like Archegos. Credit Suisse also lost a big source of revenue as the market for special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, cooled.

By July, Credit Suisse had announced its third consecutive quarterly loss. Mr. Gottstein was replaced by Mr. Körner, a veteran of the rival Swiss bank UBS.

Mr. Körner and the chairman, Axel Lehmann, who replaced Mr. Horta-Osório, are expected to unveil a new restructuring plan on Oct. 27 in an effort to convince investors of the bank’s long-term viability and profitability. The stock of Credit Suisse has dipped so much in the past year that its market value — which stood around $12 billion — is comparable to that of a regional U.S. bank, smaller than Fifth Third or Citizens Financial Group.

appeared on Reddit.

Mr. Macleod said he had decided that Credit Suisse was in bad shape after looking at what he deemed the best measure of a bank’s value — the price of its stock relative to its “book value,” or assets minus liabilities. Most Wall Street analysts factor in a broader set of measures.

But “bearing in mind that most followers on Twitter and Reddit are not financial professionals,” he said, “it would have been a wake-up call for them.”

The timing puzzled the bank’s analysts, major investors and risk managers. Credit Suisse had longstanding problems, but no sudden crisis or looming bankruptcy.

Some investors said the Sept. 30 memo sent by Mr. Körner, the bank’s chief executive, reassuring staff that Credit Suisse stood on a “strong capital base and liquidity position” despite recent market gyrations had the opposite effect on stock watchers.

Credit Suisse took the matter seriously. Over the weekend of Oct. 1, bank executives called clients to reassure them that the bank had more than the amount of capital required by regulators. The bigger worry was that talk of a liquidity crisis would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, prompting lenders to pull credit lines and depositors to pull cash, which could drain money from the bank quickly — an extreme and even unlikely scenario given the bank’s strong financial position.

“Banks rely on sentiment,” Mr. Scholtz, the Morningstar analyst, said. “If all depositors want their money back tomorrow, the money isn’t there. It’s the reality of banking. These things can snowball.”

What had snowballed was the volume of trading in Credit Suisse’s stock by small investors, which had roughly doubled from Friday to Monday, according to a gauge of retail activity from Nasdaq Data Link.

Amateur traders who gather on social media can’t trade sophisticated products like credit-default swaps — products that protect against companies’ reneging on their debts. But their speculation drove the price of these swaps past levels reached during the 2008 financial crisis.

Some asset managers said they had discussed the fate of the bank at internal meetings after the meme stock mania that was unleashed in early October. While they saw no immediate risk to Credit Suisse’s solvency, some decided to cut trading with the bank anyway until risks subsided.

In another private message on Twitter, Mr. Lewis declined to speak further about why he had predicted that Credit Suisse would collapse.

“The math and evidence is fairly obvious at this point,” he wrote. “If you disagree, the burden is really on you to support that position.”

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Bank of England governor has ‘meeting of minds’ with Hunt

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  • Bailey says he talked to new finance minister on Friday
  • ‘Very clear and immediate meeting of minds’ on fiscal challenge
  • Rates likely to rise by more than thought in August – Bailey
  • Recent bond-buying not about targeting yields

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said there was an “immediate meeting of minds” when he spoke with finance minister Jeremy Hunt about the need to fix the public finances after the tax cut plans of Hunt’s predecessor unleashed market turmoil.

Bailey, speaking in Washington where British officials attending International Monetary Fund meetings have been put on the spot about the crisis engulfing the country, said he had spoken to Hunt on Friday after he replaced Kwasi Kwarteng.

“I can tell you that there was a very clear and immediate meeting of minds between us about the importance of fiscal sustainability and the importance of taking measures to do that,” Bailey said.

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“Of course there was an important measure taken yesterday,” he said at an event where he also hinted at a big interest rate rise by the central bank next month.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, seeking to save her term in office which is barely a month old, said on Friday that Britain’s corporation tax rate would increase, reversing a key pledge made during her bid for Downing Street.

Hunt said earlier on Saturday that some taxes might have to rise and others might not fall as much as planned, signalling a further shift away from Truss’s original plans.

Bailey, speaking at an event organised by the Group of Thirty, which comprises financiers and academics, welcomed the role that Britain’s independent budget watchdog would have in assessing the budget plan that Hunt will publish on Oct. 31.

The Office for Budget Responsibility was not tasked with weighing up the impact of Kwarteng’s “mini-budget” which set off a slump in the value of the pound and government bonds when he announced it on Sept. 23.

“Flying blind is not a way to achieve sustainability,” Bailey said.

Truss criticised the BoE during her leadership campaign, saying she wanted to set a “clear direction of travel” for the central bank. BoE officials pushed back at those comments saying their independence was key to managing the economy.

‘STRONGER RESPONSE’ WITH RATES

Bailey said the BoE might raise interest rates by more than it previously thought because of the government’s huge energy bill support – which could lower inflation in the short term but push it up further ahead – and whatever it decides to do on tax cuts and spending.

“We will not hesitate to raise interest rates to meet the inflation target,” Bailey said. “And, as things stand today, my best guess is that inflationary pressures will require a stronger response than we perhaps thought in August.”

The BoE raised rates by half a percentage point in August – at the time its biggest increase in 27 years – and then did so again in September with inflation around 10%, far above the BoE’s target of 2%.

It is due to announce its next decision on Nov. 3 and many investors think it will either raise them from their current level of 2.25% to 3% or possibly 3.25%.

In the shorter term, the BoE will be keeping a close eye on how financial markets behave on Monday after it ended its emergency bond-buying programme on Friday.

Bailey said the now-completed intervention was “not about steering market yields towards some particular level, but rather preventing them from being distorted by market dysfunction”.

He said the BoE had acted after the violent market moves which exposed the “flaws in the strategy and structure” of a lot of pension funds.

The intervention was different to the much bigger and longer-running bond-buying that the BoE undertook during the coronavirus pandemic and earlier as a monetary policy tool.

“In these difficult times, we need to be very clear on this framework of intervention,” Bailey said.

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Reporting by Howard Schneider in Washington and William Schomberg in London; Additional reporting by Michael Holden in London; Editing by David Clarke

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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EXCLUSIVE Fed’s Bullard favors ‘frontloading’ rate hikes now, with wait-and-see stance in 2023

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WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A “hotter-than-expected” September inflation report doesn’t necessarily mean the Federal Reserve needs to raise interest rates higher than officials projected at their most recent policy meeting, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday, though it does warrant continued “frontloading” through larger hikes of three-quarters of a percentage point.

In a Reuters interview, Bullard said U.S. Consumer Price Index data for September, which was released on Thursday, showed inflation had become “pernicious” and difficult to arrest, and therefore “it makes sense that we’re still moving quickly.”

After delivering a fourth straight 75-basis-point hike at its policy meeting next month, Bullard said “if it was today, I’d go ahead with” a hike of the same magnitude in December, though he added it was “too early to prejudge” what to do at that final meeting of the year.

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If the Fed follows through with two more 75-basis-point hikes this year, its policy rate would end 2022 in a range of 4.50%-4.75%.

In what were tempered remarks for one of the Fed’s most hawkish voices recently, Bullard said that at that point he would let further increases rest on incoming data.

“I do think 2023 should be a data-dependent sort of year. It’s two-sided risk. It is very possible that the data would come in a way that forces the (Federal Open Market) Committee higher on the policy rate. But it’s also possible that you get a good disinflationary dynamic going, and in that situation the committee could keep the policy rate and hold it steady,” Bullard said a day after the U.S. government reported that consumer price inflation remained above 8% last month.

The possibility of a fifth larger-than-usual increase in December is “a little more frontloading than what I’ve said in the past,” he added.

But the trajectory mapped out by Bullard would still leave the target policy rate at the median level that Fed officials projected last month they would need to reach – evidence of a broad consensus at the central bank around at least a temporary stopping point after a year in which they have ratcheted rate expectations steadily higher.

Even if some of Bullard’s colleagues want to reach that point in smaller interim steps and not until early next year, Bullard said he regards faster increases as warranted because the U.S. labor market remains strong, and “there’s just not much indication that we’re getting the disinflation that we’re looking for.”

Though some investors and economists expect the Fed will need to lift its policy rate even further, to 5% or higher, Bullard said, “I wouldn’t predict that now … If that happens it will be because inflation doesn’t come down the way we’re hoping in the first half of 2023 and we continue to get hot inflation reports.”

The level he has penciled in for the end of the year is adequate, he believes, to lower the Fed’s closely-watched core personal consumption expenditures inflation index to below 3% next year, a long way back to the central bank’s 2% target.

‘SOFT LANDING’

Bullard said that despite the sense of turbulence in financial markets, there was “still a fair amount of potential for a soft landing,” with the United States likely to avoid a recession and companies reluctant to lay off workers who have been hard to hire during the post-pandemic economic reopening.

Warnings about recession risk may be distorted in part by inflation itself, Bullard said, with short-term bond yields driven higher than longer-term ones not for lack of faith in the economy, an “inversion” of the yield curve that shows investors betting on a recession, but because of the premium charged for the inflation taking place now.

Volatility in markets is to be expected when rates rise, he said, but may settle after a period of adjustment.

“It’s the transition that throws everybody for a loop,” Bullard said. But after that, the economy “could grow just as fast at the higher interest rates,” he said.

Asked about the sense that overseas events, such as the tension between the Bank of England and the current British government, may risk broader financial problems, Bullard said that his regional bank’s index of financial stress showed it to be low.

Compared to the sorts of serious market seizures seen during the financial crisis in 2008 or the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, “I don’t think we’re in a situation where global markets are facing a lot of stress of that type.”

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Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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U.S. Treasury asks major banks if it should buy back bonds

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Oct 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department is asking primary dealers of U.S. Treasuries whether the government should buy back some of its bonds to improve liquidity in the $24 trillion market.

Liquidity in the world’s largest bond market has deteriorated this year partly because of rising volatility as the Federal Reserve rapidly raises interest rates to bring down inflation.

The central bank, which had bought government bonds during the COVID-19 pandemic to stimulate the economy, is now also reducing the size of its balance sheet by letting its bonds reach maturity without buying more, a move which investors fear could exacerbate price swings.

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The Treasuries market has swelled from $5 trillion in 2007 and $17 trillion in early 2020, while banks are facing more regulatory constraints that they say make it more difficult to intermediate trades.

The Treasury is asking dealers about the specifics of how buybacks could work “in order to better assess the merits and limitations of implementing a buyback program.”

These include how much it would need to buy in so-called off-the-run Treasuries, which are older and less liquid issues, in order to “meaningfully” improve liquidity in these securities.

The Treasury is also querying whether reduced volatility in the issuance of Treasury bills as a result of buybacks made for cash and maturity management purposes could be a “meaningful benefit for Treasury or investors.”

It is further asking about the costs and benefits of funding repurchases of older debt with increased issuance of so-called on-the-run securities, which are the most liquid and current issue.

“The Treasury is acknowledging the decline in liquidity and they’re hearing what the street has been saying,” said Calvin Norris, portfolio manager & US rates strategist at Aegon Asset Management. “I think they’re investigating whether some of these measures could help to improve the situation.”

He said buying back off-the-run Treasuries could potentially increase liquidity of outstanding issues and buyback mechanisms could help contain price swings for Treasury bills, which are short-term securities.

However, when it comes to longer-dated government bonds, investors have noted that a major constraint for liquidity is the result of a rule introduced by the Federal Reserve following the 2008 financial crisis which requires dealers to hold capital against Treasuries, limiting their ability to take on risk, particularly at times of high volatility.

“The underlying cause of the lack of liquidity is that banks – due to their supplementary leverage ratios being capped – don’t have the ability to take on more Treasuries. I view that as the most significant issue right now,” said Norris.

The Fed in April 2020 temporarily excluded Treasuries and central bank deposits from the supplementary leverage ratio, a capital adequacy measure, as an excess of bank deposits and Treasury bonds raised bank capital requirements on what are viewed as safe assets. But it let that exclusion expire and big banks had to resume holding an extra layer of loss-absorbing capital against Treasuries and central bank deposits.

The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, a group of banks and investors that advise the government on its funding, has said that Treasury buybacks could enhance market liquidity and dampen swings in Treasury bill issuance and cash balances.

It added, however, that the need to finance buybacks with increased issuance of new securities could increase yields and be at odds with the Treasury’s strategy of predictable debt management if the repurchases were too variable in size or timing.

The Treasury is posing the questions as part of its regular survey of dealers before each of its quarterly refunding announcements.

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Reporting By Karen Brettell and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Chris Reese

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Labor Hoarding Could be Good News for the Economy

PROVO, Utah — Chad Pritchard and his colleagues are trying everything to staff their pizza shop and bistro, and as they do, they have turned to a new tactic: They avoid firing employees at all costs.

Infractions that previously would have led to a quick dismissal no longer do at the chef’s two places, Fat Daddy’s Pizzeria and Bistro Provenance. Consistent transportation issues have ceased to be a deal breaker. Workers who show up drunk these days are sent home to sober up.

Employers in Provo, a college town at the base of the Rocky Mountains where unemployment is near the lowest in the nation at 1.9 percent, have no room to lose workers. Bistro Provenance, which opened in September, has been unable to hire enough employees to open for lunch at all, or for dinner on Sundays and Mondays. The workers it has are often new to the industry, or young: On a recent Wednesday night, a 17-year-old could be found torching a crème brûlée.

Down the street, Mr. Pritchard’s pizza shop is now relying on an outside cleaner to help his thin staff tidy up. And up and down the wide avenue that separates the two restaurants, storefronts display “Help Wanted” signs or announce that the businesses have had to temporarily reduce their hours.

added 263,000 workers in September, fewer than in recent months but more than was normal before the pandemic. Unemployment is at 3.5 percent, matching the lowest level in 50 years, and average hourly earnings picked up at a solid 5 percent clip compared with a year earlier.

roughly 20 percent and sent unemployment to above 10 percent. Few economists expect an outcome that severe this time since today’s inflation burst has been shorter-lived and rates are not expected to climb nearly as much.

are still nearly two open jobs for every unemployed worker — companies may be hesitant to believe that any uptick in worker availability will last.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty about how big of a downturn are we facing,” said Benjamin Friedrich, an associate professor of strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “You kind of want to be ready when opportunities arise. The way I think about labor hoarding is, it has option value.”

Instead of firing, businesses may look for other ways to trim costs. Mr. Pritchard in Provo and his business partner, Janine Coons, said that if business fell off, their first resort would be to cut hours. Their second would be taking pay cuts themselves. Firing would be a last resort.

The pizzeria didn’t lay off workers during the pandemic, but Mr. Pritchard and Ms. Coons witnessed how punishing it can be to hire — and since all of their competitors have been learning the same lesson, they do not expect them to let go of their employees easily even if demand pulls back.

“People aren’t going to fire people,” Mr. Pritchard said.

But economists warned that what employers think they will do before a slowdown and what they actually do when they start to experience financial pain could be two different things.

The idea that a tight labor market may leave businesses gun-shy about layoffs is untested. Some economists said that they could not recall any other downturn where employers broadly resisted culling their work force.

“It would be a pretty notable change to how employers responded in the past,” said Nick Bunker, director of North American economic research for the career site Indeed.

And even if they do not fire their full-time employees, companies have been making increased use of temporary or just-in-time help in recent months. Gusto, a small-business payroll and benefits platform, conducted an analysis of its clients and found that the ratio of contractors per employee had increased more than 60 percent since 2019.

If the economy slows, gigs for those temporary workers could dry up, prompting them to begin searching for full-time jobs — possibly causing unemployment or underemployment to rise even if nobody is officially fired.

Policymakers know a soft landing is a long shot. Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, acknowledged during his last news conference that the Fed’s own estimate of how much unemployment might rise in a downturn was a “modest increase in the unemployment rate from a historical perspective, given the expected decline in inflation.”

But he also added that “we see the current situation as outside of historical experience.”

The reasons for hope extend beyond labor hoarding. Because job openings are so unusually high right now, policymakers hope that workers can move into available positions even if some firms do begin layoffs as the labor market slows. Companies that have been desperate to hire for months — like Utah State Hospital in Provo — may swoop in to pick up anyone who is displaced.

Dallas Earnshaw and his colleagues at the psychiatric hospital have been struggling mightily to hire enough nurse’s aides and other workers, though raising pay and loosening recruitment standards have helped around the edges. Because he cannot hire enough people to expand in needed ways, Mr. Earnshaw is poised to snap up employees if the labor market cools.

“We’re desperate,” Mr. Earnshaw said.

But for the moment, workers remain hard to find. At the bistro and pizza shop in downtown Provo, what worries Mr. Pritchard is that labor will become so expensive that — combined with rapid ingredient inflation — it will be hard or impossible to make a profit without lifting prices on pizzas or prime rib so much that consumers cannot bear the change.

“What scares me most is not the economic slowdown,” he said. “It’s the hiring shortage that we have.”

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Global Fallout From Rate Moves Won’t Stop the Fed

The Federal Reserve has embarked on an aggressive campaign to raise interest rates as it tries to tame the most rapid inflation in decades, an effort the central bank sees as necessary to restore price stability in the United States.

But what the Fed does at home reverberates across the globe, and its actions are raising the risks of a global recession while causing economic and financial pain in many developing countries.

Other central banks in advanced economies, from Australia to the eurozone, are also lifting rates rapidly to fight their inflation. And as the Fed’s higher interest rates attract money to the United States — pumping up the value of the dollar — emerging-market economies are being forced to raise their own borrowing costs to try to stabilize their currencies to the extent possible.

Altogether, it is a worldwide push toward more expensive money unlike anything seen before in the 21st century, one that is likely to have serious ramifications.

warned the damage could be particularly acute in poorer nations. Developing economies had already been dealing with a cost-of-living crisis because of soaring food and fuel prices, and now their American imports are growing steadily more expensive as the dollar marches higher.

The Fed’s moves have spurred market volatility and worries about financial stability, as higher rates elevate the value of the U.S. dollar, making it harder for emerging-market borrowers to pay back their dollar-denominated debt.

It is a recipe for globe-spanning turmoil and even recession. Despite that, the Fed is poised to continue raising interest rates. That’s because the Fed, like central banks around the world, is in charge of domestic economy goals: It’s supposed to keep inflation slow and steady while fostering maximum employment. While occasionally called “central banker to the world” because of the dollar’s foremost position, the Fed goes about its day-to-day business with its eye squarely on America.

loss of purchasing power over time, meaning your dollar will not go as far tomorrow as it did today. It is typically expressed as the annual change in prices for everyday goods and services such as food, furniture, apparel, transportation and toys.

The threat facing the global economy — including the Fed’s role in it — is expected to dominate the conversation next week as economists and government officials convene in Washington for the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

In a speech at Georgetown University on Thursday, Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the I.M.F., offered a grim assessment of the world economy and the tightrope that central banks are walking.

“Not tightening enough would cause inflation to become de-anchored and entrenched — which would require future interest rates to be much higher and more sustained, causing massive harm on growth and massive harm on people,” Ms. Georgieva said. “On the other hand, tightening monetary policy too much and too fast — and doing so in a synchronized manner across countries — could push many economies into prolonged recession.”

Noting that inflation remains stubbornly high and broad-based, she added: “Central banks have to continue to respond.”

The World Bank warned last month that simultaneous interest-rate increases around the world could trigger a global recession next year, causing financial crises in developing economies. It urged central banks in advanced economies to be mindful of the cross-border “spillover effects.”

“To achieve low inflation rates, currency stability and faster growth, policymakers could shift their focus from reducing consumption to boosting production,” David Malpass, the World Bank president, said.

Trade and Development Report said.

So far, major central banks have shown little appetite for stopping their inflation-busting campaigns. The Fed, which has made five rate increases this year, has signaled that it plans to raise borrowing costs even higher. Most officials expect to increase rates by at least another 1.25 percentage points this year, taking the policy rate to a range of 4.25 to 4.5 percent from the current 3 to 3.25 percent.

Even economies that are facing a pronounced slowdown have been lifting borrowing costs. The European Central Bank raised rates three-quarters of a point last month, even though the continent is approaching a dark winter of slowing growth and crushing energy costs.

according to the World Bank. Food costs in particular have driven millions further into extreme poverty, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition. As the dollar surge makes a range of imports pricier for emerging markets, that situation could worsen, even as the possibility of financial upheaval increases.

“Low-income developing countries in particular face serious risks from food insecurity and debt distress,” Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said during a news conference this week.

In Africa, officials have been urging the I.M.F. and Group of 20 nations to provide more emergency assistance and debt relief amid inflation and rising interest rates.

“This unprecedented shock further destabilizes the weakest economies and makes their need for liquidity even more pressing, to mitigate the effects of widespread inflation and to support the most vulnerable households and social strata, especially young people and women,” Macky Sall, chairman of the African Union, told leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

To be sure, central bankers in big developed economies like the United States are aware that they are barreling over other economies with their policies. And although they are focused on domestic goals, a severe weakening abroad could pave the way for less aggressive policy because of its implications for their own economic outlooks.

Waning demand from abroad could ease pressure on supply chains and reduce prices. If central bankers decide that such a chain reaction is likely to weigh on their own business activity and inflation, it may give them more room to slow their policy changes.

“The global tightening cycle is something that the Fed has to take into account,” said Megan Greene, global chief economist for the Kroll consulting firm. “They’re interested in what is going on in the rest of the world, inasmuch as it affects their ability to achieve their targets.”

his statement.

But many global economic officials — including those at the Fed — remain focused on very high inflation. Investors expect them to make another large rate increase when they meet on Nov. 1-2.

“We’re very attentive” to international spillovers to both emerging markets and advanced economies, Lisa D. Cook, a Fed governor, said during a question-and-answer session on Thursday. “But our mandate is domestic. So we’re very focused on inflation as it evolves in this country.”

Raghuram Rajan, a former head of India’s central bank and now an economist at the University of Chicago, has in the past pushed the Fed to take foreign conditions into account as it sets policy. He still thinks that measures like bond-buying should be pursued with an eye on global spillovers.

But amid high inflation, he said, central banks are required to pay attention to their own mandates to achieve price stability — even if that makes for a stronger dollar, weaker currencies and more pain abroad.

“The basic problem is that the world of monetary policy dances to the Fed’s tune,” Mr. Rajan said, later adding: “This is a problem with no easy solutions.”

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Megacap stocks lose ground as yields rise, economic data awaited

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  • Stocks rise in late-day surge on oversold conditions
  • U.S. private payrolls increase in September – ADP
  • Twitter eases from one-year high, Tesla falls 6%
  • Energy stocks jump as OPEC+ agrees to oil output cuts
  • Indices fall: Dow down 0.14%, S&P 0.20%, Nasdaq 0.25%

Oct 5 (Reuters) – Wall Street stocks closed lower on Wednesday, unable to sustain a late-day surge, after data showing strong U.S. labor demand again suggested the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates higher for longer.

Fed officials have insisted on aggressive rate tightening to battle inflation, a message the market has feared would lead to a hard landing and likely recession.

However, investors also sought bargains in a market that appears oversold. The forward price-to-earnings ratio is at 15.9, close to its historic mean, down from around 22 before the market’s big slide this year.

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“By battling back, to me that is a favorable indicator that this rally could have legs,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

“It too confirms that investors believe, traders believe, that there’s still more to go in this rally,” he said.

Valuations for the S&P 500 have come down sharply

U.S. private employers stepped up hiring in September, the ADP National Employment report on Wednesday showed, suggesting rising rates and tighter financial conditions have yet to curb labor demand as the Fed battles high inflation. read more

The Institute for Supply Management’s services industry employment gauge shot up in another sign labor remains strong as the overall industry slowed modestly in September. read more

The Fed is expected to deliver a fourth straight 75-basis-point rate hike when policymakers meet Nov. 1-2, the pricing of fed fund futures shows, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly told Bloomberg TV in an interview that inflation is problematic and that the U.S. central bank would stay the course. read more

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 6, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“The path is clear: we are going to raise rates to restrictive territory, then hold them there for a while,” she said. “We are committed to bringing inflation down, staying course until we are well and truly done.”

The benchmark S&P 500 (.SPX) index rose 5.7% Monday and Tuesday as Treasury yields slid sharply on softer U.S. economic data, the UK’s turnaround on proposed tax cuts that had roiled markets and Australia’s smaller-than-expected rate hike.

Treasury yields shot up again on Wednesday after the softer economic data failed to bolster budding hopes the Fed might pivot to a less hawkish policy stance.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors fell, led by a 2.25% decline in utilities (.SPLRCU) and 1.9% drop in real estate (.SPLRCR).

The energy sector led the market higher, up 2.06%, after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies agreed to cut oil production the deepest since the COVID-19 pandemic began, curbing supply in an already tight market. read more

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 42.45 points, or 0.14%, to 30,273.87, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 7.65 points, or 0.20%, to 3,783.28 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 27.77 points, or 0.25%, to 11,148.64.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.43 billion shares, compared with the 11.64 billion average for the full session over the past 20 trading days.

Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) lost momentum in line with its peers, a day after surging 22% on billionaire Elon Musk’s decision to proceed with his original $44-billion bid to take the social media company private. read more

Twitter fell 1.35% and Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), the electric-car maker headed by Musk, also slid 3.46.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 2.08-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.69-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted two new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 49 new highs and 128 new lows.

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Reporting by Ankika Biswas and Bansari Mayur Kamdar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Richard Chang

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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