Last week’s biggest headline was consumer price inflation (CPI) which registered +5.0% y/y in May, the first “five-handle” US inflation print in nearly 13 years. Under the covers, however, the report was less alarming. Core CPI, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was just +3.8% y/y.
Moreover, more than half of the total came from just six components associated with the release of pent-up demand: food away from home, lodging, airfares, rental cars, used cars, and vehicle insurance.
Markets paid attention to these details, and as a result, inflation-sensitive asset classes rallied last week. Equities were led by technology stocks, many of which have long-dated cash flows that are especially sensitive to discount rate assumptions. The return of tech leadership in equities dates to mid-May, shortly after the previous month’s CPI report which showed similarly transitory drivers underneath an upside headline surprise.
Bond markets also rallied, as 10y Treasury yields fell 10 basis points to 1.45%, their lowest level since early March when rates were still rising quickly. Credit spreads were stable, pushing corporate and muni bonds prices higher (and yields lower) in sync with Treasuries. Mortgage rates also fell last week.
Most commodities traded in a narrow range as inflation fears eased. That said, oil ticked higher by approximately $1/barrel, pushing WTI above $70 for the first time since the outset of the pandemic.