Americans tired of sky-high borrowing costs could be disappointed this week | CNN Business (2024)

Americans tired of sky-high borrowing costs could be disappointed this week | CNN Business (1)

A pedestrian holding a smartphone in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, US, on Friday, June 7, 2024.

A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign upright here. You can listen to an audio version of the newsletter by clicking the same link.

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Another month, another hot jobs report that has Wall Street wondering when the Federal Reserve will finally cut interest rates.

The US economy added 272,000 jobs in May, racing past economists’ predictions for 180,000. The jobless rate rose only slightly to 4%.

The hot jobs report is a double-edged sword for Wall Street. On one hand, a resilient labor market lessens the chance that the economy will tip into recession. On the other, it puts long-awaited interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve on the back burner. Traders are betting that the Fed will ease rates once or twice this year, but not before September, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

The Fed is expected to hold rates steady at its policy meeting this week, as inflation remains above its 2% target and the economy is slow to cool. Investors are awaiting the latest Summary of Economic Projections, which contains the “dot plot,” or a chart where Fed officials project where rates could head in the future.

Before the Bell spoke with Nate Thooft, chief investment officer of multi-asset solutions at Manulife Investment Management, about when he expects the Federal Reserve to begin cutting rates and what that means for markets.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Before the Bell: Do you think the Fed could lower its projection for three quarter-point rate cuts this year?

There’s no doubt that they could.

The Fed’s dot plot is still basically saying three, so there’s a reasonable chance the dot plot does adjust to two as the possible outcome. But we’re in the camp that it’s two or three quarter-point [cuts]. I’m not sure it really matters that much in the grand scheme of things, because the big point will be we are going to begin a cutting cycle the way other major global central banks are, whether it’s the [European Central Bank] or Bank of Canada.

The US will very likely join them, at least starting the cutting cycle before the end of this year with one to three cuts — our argument is two or three — and then they’ll continue to do so through the course of 2025.

Is it concerning that the European Central Bank and Bank of Canada have begun cutting rates before the Fed?

The big thing that we have a lot of anxiety about is currency. (BTB: Higher interest rates tend to strengthen a currency.)

The other central banks can move several quarter-points before the Fed, but they can’t go into a completely accommodative state while the Fed is still in a very restrictive state. While the Fed and other central banks generally don’t have currency as part of their explicit mandate, they are not void of being aware of those dynamics. So, I do think generally speaking, we believe the dollar is probably close to or right around its kind of peak levels.

But there is a risk that if the Fed has to delay longer and other central banks continue to move forward, it’s going to become more problematic for risk assets in general, especially outside the US if the dollar strength continues, like we’ve seen over the last couple of years. So that’s something that we are watching very closely.

Do you think questions about whether the Fed will cut rates later this year could add to stock market volatility as we draw closer to election day?

You could see some additional volatility in the US around the election. But ultimately, and our view has always been this case, the US electorate is very split and very equally split. And so you’re not going to be likely in a position where either party has significant majorities across the three components of government … which means significant policy changes are not that likely over the coming four years. And overall, that’s been a positive for the US for much of its history when it comes to elections not really directly impacting markets much other than some short-term volatility around the election cycle.

Workers at Samsung Electronics walk out for the first time ever

A labor union at Samsung Electronics in South Korea said many workers went on strike Friday, marking the first such walkout in the smartphone and chipmaking giant’s 55-year history, report my colleagues Yoonjung Seo and Diksha Madhok.

The Nationwide Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) said last week that its 28,000 members — just under a quarter of the company’s total workforce in the country — would stage a one-day strike on June 7, following failed negotiations over pay and bonus arrangements.

The union asked its members to take a day off on Friday, which falls between a public holiday on Thursday and the weekend.

Son Woomok, a union leader, told CNN that “many employees used their annual leave today,” and at one site “all workers had taken leave so replacement personnel were deployed.” He did not provide other details.

He had previously said many NSEU members work for Samsung’s flagship semiconductor unit. That division is trying to regain its former status as a top semiconductor company, according to Reuters, which says Samsung has fallen behind its competitors SK Hynix and Micron Technology in delivering chips used in artificial intelligence (AI) processors.

A Samsung spokesperson told CNN that, “there is no impact on production and management activities” as a result of the one-day walkout.

Read more here.

How a Depression-era law could be used to make your booze cheaper

Federal regulators are planning to use a rarely enforced law from the Great Depression to allege America’s largest alcohol distributor is unfairly pricing wine and spirits, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.

A looming Federal Trade Commission lawsuit against Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits would be aimed at lowering costs for consumers — in this case on alcohol — and ensuring mom-and-pop shops have a level playing field against big chains, the source said.

The case, which could be risky, would represent the latest effort by Biden administration regulators to show they are taking action to lower costs and confront dominant companies, reports my colleague Matt Egan.

It would also be the latest aggressive step by FTC Chair Lina Khan, who recently led the agency to ban most employers from using noncompete clauses and is probing a Microsoft deal with an artificial intelligence startup.

The latest battleground in the antitrust fight could be booze. Southern Glazer’s, based in Miami and operating in 44 US states, is the largest wine and spirits distributor in the United States. The family-owned company distributes everything from Grey Goose vodka and Jim Beam bourbon to Yellow Tail wine.

The FTC lawsuit, previously reported by Politico, could come in the next few weeks and would rely on the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936, the source said. That Depression-era law prohibits suppliers from providing deeper discounts to large chains than to smaller stores.

Read more here.

Americans tired of sky-high borrowing costs could be disappointed this week | CNN Business (2024)


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