Market Recap – Q2 2024

Q2 Recap:


After several hotter-than-expected inflation prints in Q1, the data released in Q2 suggest that price pressures began to cool a bit. The m/m increase in Core CPI and Core PCE fell sequentially in both April and May, leaving Core CPI at +3.4% y/y and Core PCE at +2.6% y/y. Substantially all of the remaining inflation in the economy is in core services. Food and energy inflation are roughly +0.5% y/y combined as of the end of Q2, while core goods inflation is actually negative (i.e., deflation) at -0.4% y/y.

Monetary Policy

There were no changes to overnight interest rates in Q2, and the June update to the Summary of Economic Projections clearly reflected a “higher for longer” outlook, due to lingering inflation concerns. The median projection among FOMC members fell to just one 25bp rate cut in 2024, although to be fair, the committee was quite close to being evenly split between one rate cut and two. Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterated during the most recent press conference that the committee will need to see more sustained progress towards the 2% inflation target before they will have sufficient confidence to begin cutting rates.


Data released in Q2 suggest a slowing, but still growing, US economy. The labor market is normalizing: new jobless claims rose by ~20k per week, open jobs fell to 8.06 million, and unemployment ticked higher by 20 basis points to 4.0%, but job creation remained solidly positive (3m avg +249k nonfarm payrolls added). Persistently high mortgage rates have inhibited housing sector activity. Manufacturing remains weak, but strength in services driven by solid consumer demand continues to drive the economy forward. Analysts currently forecast an acceleration in S&P 500 earnings growth in Q2, with bottom-up consensus estimates at +8.8% y/y.

Bond Market

Treasury yields moved higher across the curve in Q2, particularly in the belly and long end as investors continue to grapple with longer-term inflation assumptions and US budget deficits. Credit spreads tightened in April and early May, but then retrenched in June to finish slightly wider for the quarter. In the aggregate, the US investment grade bond market is down slightly YTD at the halfway point of 2024.

Stock Market

Gains were concentrated in Q2, continuing the “narrow rally” theme. Large caps that could be tied to the generative A/I theme did well in Q2, led by semiconductor stocks like Nvidia (+36.7%). Public utility stocks also continue to benefit from the significant expansion in power and cooling that will be required to support the growing A/I infrastructure. Elsewhere though, it was a difficult quarter, with cyclicals, small caps, and most international benchmarks finishing lower.

Albion’s “Four Pillars”:

Economy & Earnings

The US economy has been resilient despite the higher interest rate environment. Analysts are forecasting low double digit EPS growth in 2024; growth of that magnitude will depend on the economy avoiding recession.


The S&P 500’s forward P/E of 21x is well above the long run average, so valuations are likely to be a headwind to future returns. More predictive metrics like CAPE, Tobin’s Q, and the Buffett Indicator (Eq Mkt Cap / GDP) suggest that compound annual returns from current levels over the coming decade are likely to be in the single digits.

Interest Rates

Futures markets imply that the Fed will cut overnight interest rates once or twice in 2024, most likely at some point in the 2nd half of the year. Belly and long end rates are already at or near what are likely to be their post-pandemic equilibrium levels, unless the US economy enters a recession.


After falling rapidly in late 2022 and all of 2023, inflation has become sticky in the 3-4% range in early 2024. Services inflation remains somewhat elevated, in part due to heavily lagged shelter costs. Volatile energy prices driven by geopolitical conflicts could present a risk to the inflation outlook.

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