Macro Briefing + Notes: 31 May 2022

* EU leaders agree on partial ban on Russian oil imports
* China mfg sentiment improves in May but is still contracting
* Eurozone economic sentiment stabilizes in May
* Biden says he’ll back Fed to reduce inflation through lower demand
* US Consumer Sentiment Index revised down for May:

The US housing market is in a “correction,” says Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi. “The housing market has peaked… everything points to a rolling over of the housing market. In terms of home sales, they’re falling sharply. Housing demand is coming down fast. Home price growth [will] go flat here pretty quickly; we will see [home] price declines in a significant number of markets.” He also predicts that the Federal Reserve, in its inflation-curbing efforts, won’t be satisfied with merely easing home sales. Rather, the central bank also wants trim the growth rate in home construction, he explains.

China’s manufacturing slump may be in the early stages of recovering. The country’s official PMI survey data for the sector rebounded in May, although the index still reflects a slight contraction (below a neutral 50 level), based on data published by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). “The survey results show that a series of policies recently introduced to smooth out logistics and the blockages in the industrial chains have been effective,” says senior NBS statistician Zhao Qinghe. “In May, the proportion of companies reporting logistic blockages was 8 percentage points lower than last month.”

Bond prices nearly everywhere rebounded in May. “I expect global bonds to deliver positive returns for the rest of this year,” predicts a global fixed-income money manager at Asset Management One in Tokyo. “Yields have fallen from their peaks because more and more investors see value in bonds. The worst of the bond market is behind us,” opines Akira Takei.

Gold’s up slightly this year, but is it still an effective hedge? Yes, “gold still hedges chaos,” writes Russ Koesterich, portfolio manager of BlackRock’s global allocation team. “Gold is having a decent year, if only by not losing. Year-to-date returns highlight gold as one of the few asset classes in the green, albeit with a modest 2% return. For investors looking for hedges, should they allocate more to gold? My view is it depends on what you’re hedging against. Gold, along with every other asset class, is struggling with the Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle. That said, gold can still hedge the most chaotic and uncertain of events: war.”