Tomorrow’s inflation report–the Consumer Price Index (CPI) flavor–has the potential to end the recent uptick in stocks and send prices back down and volatility back up.
Right now economists surveyed by Bloomberg are expecting a year over year increase in inflation of 6.8% in November. That number certainly won’t cheer investors–it would be the highest inflation rate since the Reagan administration–but it’s likely that much of the expectation for that result is already in investor minds. The real damage would come if the rate exceeds that already hefty projection.
And remember that the Federal Reserve’s rate-setting body the Open Market Committee meets on Wednesday. Expectations from that meeting call for a statement on a stepped up pace for ending the purchase of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.
Despite all this uncertainty–who wants the exposure to a CPI surprise tomorrow–stocks are holding up better than might be expected. As of the close in New York the Standard & Poor’s 500 is down just 0.72% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is actually at 0% gain or loss for the day. The worst damage is in technology–again, where the NASDAQ Composite is lower by 1.71%–and in the small caps of the Russell 2000, which has given up 2.27%.
The CBOE Standard & Poor’s 500 Volatility Index (VIX) is, so far, not headed massively higher on risk hedging. The VIX is up just 8.44% to 21.58 as of the New York close.