The strength of the hard activity data for April refutes the recent message from financial markets that the economy is at risk of imminent recession. The solid gain in control group retail sales, together with upward revisions to past months leaves the underlying trend in consumer spending looking much stronger. Meanwhile the continued rebound in manufacturing output, in particular the recovery in vehicle output to the pre-pandemic level, illustrates how the gradual easing of supply shortages is supporting a rebound in production. With signs that core inflation is still running far too hot, the continued strength of economic activity supports the Fed’s decision to press ahead with 50bp rate hikes at the next couple of FOMC meetings. Nevertheless, we still expect a drop back in inflation later this year, alongside signs of a slowdown in economic activity will prompt the FOMC to shift back to 25bp hikes by the fall.
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