No data was found
CA-EN Advisors
THIS WEEK WITH SADIQ

Calling the BoC’s Bluff

December 11 to 15, 2023

THIS WEEK WITH SADIQ

Calling the BoC’s Bluff

December 11 to 15, 2023

Weekly Commentary

Market Recap

  • Equity markets were mixed this week alongside sturdy U.S. labour market data, and a bond market that continues to price in rate cuts next year.
  • The S&P 500 inched up 0.2%, with banks and telecom services leading the pack.
  • The TSX dipped 0.6% as weakness in energy and materials weighed on the index.

Interest Rates

Last week, the Bank of Canada (BoC) held interest rates steady but warned that more hikes are possible. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) seems content to hold steady, and the European Central Bank (ECB) may be poised to cut rates given better-than-expected inflation numbers. Against this landscape, are markets too bullish on rate cuts in 2024? In general, we think they are. To be clear, we continue to believe that rate cuts from all three central banks—the Fed, the BoC, and the ECB—are likely in the new year, and rate hikes are essentially off the table. But markets may be overestimating the number and magnitude of those cuts. It’s likely that we’ll continue to hear commentary from the central banks emphasizing that they still haven’t reached their inflation target. That’s what the BoC said recently, likely believing that a relatively hawkish statement may help curtail spending and serve a similar function as an actual rate increase. Looking ahead, our expectation is that the BoC will ease rates late in the first half of 2024, while the Fed is most likely to move in the second half of the year, though they could wait until 2025. Behind closed doors, central banks are probably content with 3% inflation in the near term, but reminding investors of the 2% target can still be useful as a way of keeping spending and market expectations in line.

Bottom Line: While markets may be too optimistic about interest rate cuts, central banks’ messaging indicates that we’re at a pivot point, and that’s been fuelling rallies in equity and bond markets.

Consumers

The holiday spending season is upon us, and as I mentioned in this space last week, we’re closely monitoring the state of the consumer for signs of how the first quarter of 2024 may play out. The good news is that people are continuing to spend; Amazon confirmed as much in comments last week. But there has been an adjustment in what consumers are spending on—a trade down from higher-priced items to lower-priced ones. We expect that trend to continue as the new year approaches. Despite this adjustment, the fact that people are still spending is significant, because a retrenchment of consumer spending would be the first sign of a possible recession. As I’ve mentioned before, there are cracks in the consumer and they’re eating into people’s excess savings. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll stop spending, however—it’s likely that they’ll just add more credit card debt. The sticker shock will come in January, and that’s when consumers may tighten their belts for a couple of months.

Bottom Line: We’ll continue to watch the data to see if cracks in the consumer get bigger, but so far, holiday spending—including Black Friday—has been fairly good.

Oil

We continue to believe that oil is undervalued. Last week, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude briefly dropped below $70 per barrel before rebounding somewhat. We think that fair value is somewhere in the $80-$90 per barrel range. There are likely to be short-term price fluctuations, but if consensus expectations are right and we don’t experience a long and painful recession, then we suspect energy demand could surprise on the upside. On the supply side, we’re also seeing production cuts come through from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and OPEC+, which could also cause prices to move higher. Geopolitical risks may also cause shocks that would help boost prices, though our expectation is that they wouldn’t be long-lasting.

Bottom Line: Oil is likely undervalued, though patience may be required to achieve that value.

Positioning

For a detailed breakdown of our portfolio positioning, check out the latest BMO GAM House View Report, titled Stocking Up for a Hiday Rally.

Disclosures:

The viewpoints expressed by the Portfolio Manager represents their assessment of the markets at the time of publication. Those views are subject to change without notice at any time without any kind of notice. The information provided herein does not constitute a solicitation of an offer to buy, or an offer to sell securities nor should the information be relied upon as investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. This communication is intended for informational purposes only.


BMO Global Asset Management is a brand name under which BMO Asset Management Inc. and BMO Investments Inc. operate.


Any statement that necessarily depends on future events may be a forward-looking statement. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Although such statements are based on assumptions that are believed to be reasonable, there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially from expectations. Investors are cautioned not to rely unduly on any forward-looking statements. In connection with any forward-looking statements, investors should carefully consider the areas of risk described in the most recent simplified prospectus.


This article is for information purposes. The information contained herein is not, and should not be construed as, investment, tax or legal advice to any party. Investments should be evaluated relative to the individual’s investment objectives and professional advice should be obtained with respect to any circumstance.


Commissions, management fees and expenses (if applicable) all may be associated with investments in mutual funds. Trailing commissions may be associated with investments in certain series of securities of mutual funds. Please read the fund facts, ETF facts or prospectus of the relevant mutual fund before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. Distributions are not guaranteed and are subject to change and/or elimination.


For a summary of the risks of an investment in the BMO Mutual Funds, please see the specific risks set out in the prospectus. ETF Series of the BMO Mutual Funds trade like stocks, fluctuate in market value and may trade at a discount to their net asset value, which may increase the risk of loss. Distributions are not guaranteed and are subject to change and/or elimination.


BMO Mutual Funds are managed by BMO Investments Inc., which is an investment fund manager and a separate legal entity from Bank of Montreal.


®/™Registered trademarks/trademark of Bank of Montreal, used under licence.

Insights

Responsible Investment
February 28, 2024
February 2024

A “Just” AI Transformation

What do the AI transformation and energy transition have in common? Leaving no one behind in the AI transformation.
READ MORE
Sadiq Adatia
Sadiq Adatia
Weekly Commentary
February 26, 2024
February 2024

How Nvidia Became the New Apple

As Nvidia’s stock soars, is it time to take profits or are there further gains to be found? What does the inflation gap between the U.S. and Canada mean for interest rates?
READ MORE
Monthly House View
February 22, 2024

The American Exception: How U.S. Markets Beat the Bears…Again

It was mixed news for markets, but it did provide the one thing we’ve been seeking for months: greater clarity
READ MORE
Steven Shepherd profile photo
Commentary
February 22, 2023

BMO ETF Portfolios’ February Commentary: Rate Cuts See Their Shadow

January’s slow start turned quickly into a continuation of the fourth quarter’s “everything rally” in the U.S., as earnings season delivered above average upside earnings surprises.
READ MORE
Commentary
February 22, 2024
February 2024

Commercial Real Estate Winter 2024 Market Update: Bricks, Clicks and the Pace of Change

Traditionally slow, commercial real estate now adapts faster to changing behaviors.
READ MORE
Weekly Commentary
February 20, 2024
February 2024

What’s Happening with Bonds?

What do higher-than-expected inflation numbers and slipping bond prices mean for the fixed income outlook? Will the A.I. rally continue, or will the optimism run its course?
READ MORE