Markets entered the second half of the year Tuesday with an opening sell-off that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed more than 500 points by mid-morning.
That dashed hopes that the rally at the end of last week might signal a turn in investors’ fortunes following a first half that had market benchmarks suffering their worst returns in decades.
Adding fuel to the fire was news out of Europe that the euro has slid to a 20-year low against the dollar, almost reaching parity as global traders seek the safe haven of the U.S. currency.
Meanwhile, bonds have been backing off their recent higher yields, an ominous sign that the market is pricing in a recession. After breaching the 3% mark recently, the 10-year Treasury was yielding about 2.8% while the international oil benchmark Brent crude fell despite concerns of possible supply constraints.
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The downbeat news reflects an increasing drumbeat of warnings of recession. Economists at Nomura now forecast a slew of recessions across the industrialized world, with the U.S., Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan all suffering as central banks raise interest rates to combat rampant inflation.
“Increasing signs that the world economy is entering a synchronized growth slowdown, meaning countries can no longer rely on a rebound in exports for growth, have also prompted us to forecast multiple recessions,” they wrote.
For the U.S., Nomura expects the downturn to be mild but long. But Europe is likely to fare worse, exacerbated by high energy prices and supply issues as a result of Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Domestically, much will depend on how aggressive the Federal Reserve is in cutting interest rates. The Fed began its pivot to tighter monetary policy in May, then took the unusual step of hiking rates by 75 basis points at its June meeting. Analysts are divided on whether the Fed will raise rates by the same amount this month or choose to increase its overnight lending rate by 50 basis points instead.
Ominously, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow estimate of quarterly economic growth was reduced last week to a decline of 2.1% for the second quarter. While the measure is not an official Fed forecast, it follows the official government reading of a 1.6% drop in economic growth in the first quarter.
“The GDPNow model estimate for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the second quarter of 2022 is -2.1 percent on July 1, down from -1.0 percent on June 30,” the Atlanta bank said on Friday.
Although many cite the two quarters of negative growth as a recession, the actual definition from the National Bureau of Economic Research is a little more nuanced, considering that a downturn in the labor market is often a requisite for an official declaration.
On Friday, the government will report the monthly jobs number for June, with estimates for an increase of about 250,000 or 275,000 jobs added. But that would still be a drop from the 390,000 for May.