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Inflation conundrum

Inflation data is rivaling nonfarm payrolls in terms of market enthusiasm lately as Wall Street tries to gauge when the Federal Reserve will make its move to curb asset purchases. The debate over transitory vs. persistent will continue through today as data on the input side arrives before the bell.

The Labor Department releases the July PPI report at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists are predicting a headline rise of 0.6% for the month, with the annual rate staying at 7.3%. The core PPI, excluding food and energy, is expected to have risen 0.5% in July, with the year-over-year rate remaining at 5.6%.

Input cost inflation has been plagued by the same large price swings that the Fed has argued are transitory on the retail side, such as a spike in lumber prices, which has subsided, and a shortage of semiconductors, which is still a problem. And while companies have been announcing price increases through this and the last earnings seasons, there are concerns that more sticker shock is in store for consumers.

Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) CEO Donnie King said on the company's earnings call this week that Tyson has seen "accelerating and unprecedented inflation" and "costs are hitting us faster than we can get pricing at this point."

Ammo for both camps: Yesterday's July CPI numbers showed a cooler-than-expected core rise and moderate price gains in hot sectors, but a headline number still well above 5%. "Inflation has, at a minimum, paused," Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, told CNBC. "For both the headline and core figures, the monthly and annual numbers were stable or down from last month. Based on that data, inflation is certainly not on an unstoppable increase."

"The inflation data for July moderated somewhat, at least relative to the heady pace of recent months, which should temper market and policymaker concerns a bit, despite the fact that inflation will stay sticky-higher for a while and the risk to inflation from here remains on the high-side," BlackRock's Rick Rieder writes.

David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, said this was "still a very hot report" and that some of the higher prices will stick around for the rest of the expansion. "We're too obsessed with second derivatives here, we still have a five handle on inflation."

In a Bloomberg column this morning, Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic advisor at Allianz, says the report supports both sides of the debate. The transitory inflation camp will point to "the retreat of items that have been chief contributors to the surge in inflation, such as used-car prices and airfares," while those who worry about sustained economic damage from persistent inflation will point to higher food prices and the initial stages of wage-push inflation.

Overall, "it would be better to tilt toward what company after company has been saying about cost and price pressures rather than rely on macroeconomic models that inevitably struggle to capture pandemic-related changes," he says.

Whither yields? The Treasury market still remains a bit of a puzzle, with benchmark 10-year yields have risen 20 basis points in 10 days, but still historically very low for the kind of growth and inflation numbers the market is seeing. Yesterday provided another head-fake as the 10-year failed to take its cue from the CPI. Instead, it reacted much more to the strong demand for the $41B 10-year auction, where bid-to-cover was the highest since May 2020, which Jefferies called "one for the record books." This morning the 10-year (NYSEARCA:TBT) (NASDAQ:TLT) is down 2 basis points to 1.34%.

The "post-CPI reaction is a fairly classic sign of the market, albeit modestly, pushing back its expectations for when the FOMC may take their ‘foot off the gas’ and begin to taper asset purchases," Michael Brown, senior market analyst at Caxton writes. "I think, however, that such a view may be misplaced, given that yesterday’s inflation print was broadly in line with where the FOMC would’ve expected it to be."

Goldman Sachs cut its 2021 expectations for the 10-year yield this week, now calling for a rise to 1.6%, down from 1.9%. "In looking ahead, we expect erosion of labor market slack should continue to translate primarily to higher real yields, which we expect to be the main driver in taking yields towards our revised year-end target," Goldman said. "Notably, inflation out the forward curve is broadly priced at levels consistent with core PCE remaining around 2% (or higher), and while the delta variant poses some upside risks to inflation, our economists do expect pressures to subside over the coming quarters." (3 comments)

Booster shots

On Thursday, the FDA is set to amend the emergency use authorizations granted for COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)/BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), allowing the immunocompromised people to get a third shot, NBC News reported.

The move follows a meeting of an advisory panel of the CDC in July that urged the use of booster COVID-19 shots for adults with compromised immune systems. Such regulatory action from the FDA is required as a CDC expert panel is scheduled to meet on Friday to decide on the need for extra vaccine doses for the immunocompromised. Their signoff is necessary for doctors to prescribe booster shots. (58 comments)

DoorDash-Instacart M&A

DoorDash (NYSE:DASH) is said to have held talks to purchase Instacart (ICART) over the past two months that may value the grocery delivery company at $40B to $50B. The talks fell apart in recent weeks at least partly over regulatory concerns that the Biden administration may not allow a combination, according to a The Information report, which cited people familiar.

Instacart initiated the talks with DoorDash looking for a merger, according to the report. Instacart separately started talks with Uber, looking for a sales partnership, similar to Uber's announced deal with Gopuff. (8 comments)


Digital Fools Gold

When it comes to sources we trust, the masterminds at Goldman Sachs are up there. So when they say that “bitcoin is not an investable asset,” we’re inclined to agree.

Cleverly marketed as “digital gold,” Goldman argues bitcoin has failed as both a store of value and hedge against inflation.

On the other hand, there’s an estimated $1.7 trillion asset class that 86% of advisors agree should be included in wealth management offerings: art.

  • 0.01 correlation factor to public equities from ‘95–’20

  • Contemporary art prices rose 14% avg/year from ‘95–20

  • Total wealth in art is projected to grow by $1 trillion by 2026

With results like that, it’s no wonder that financial gurus like Steve Cohen and Leon Black invest billions in art. We’ve partnered with this art investing platform allowing Wall Street Breakfast readers to skip their waitlist*

App store battle

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday that a proposed bill aimed at antitrust practices in app stores will encourage innovation and create a more competitive market.

Blumenthal told CNBC that the legislation was designed to "break the ironclad grip" Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGGOOGL) have on the app store sector. Speaking in the same CNBC interview, Blackburn argued that a more diverse environment for apps will help smaller companies find funding and ultimately lead to more breakthroughs in the industry. (89 comments)

Accenture attack

Accenture (NYSE:ACN) is the latest target of ransomware hackers who threatened to release stolen data within several hours of the breach.

CNBC reporter Eamon Javers says the hacking group is also offering to sell insider information to interested buyers. A Dark Web post attributed to the hackers says Accenture "is beyond privacy and security" and offers to sell databases.

Accenture confirmed the breach to CNBC but says it quickly identified irregular activity in one of its environments and immediately contained and isolated the affected servers. (13 comments)

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan -0.2%. Hong Kong -0.5%. China -0.2%. India +0.5%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.1%. Paris +0.1%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.12%. S&P +0.01%. Nasdaq -0.11%. Crude +0.40% at $69.53. Gold +0.21% at $1757. Bitcoin -1.1% to $45564.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1.5 bps to 1.345%.

Today's Economic Calendar

8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Producer Price Index
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
1:00 PM Results of $27B, 30-Year Note Auction
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet

What else is happening...

CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy amid surge in Delta variant.

Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNAslips as EU regulator cites more side effects possibly linked to COVID-19 shot.

Opendoor Technologies (NASDAQ:OPENstock surges after Q3 guidance exceeds consensus.

Coupang (NYSE:CPNGstock plunges after earnings miss.

Wayfair (NYSE:Wsoars after unleashing big buyback plan.

Robinhood (NASDAQ:HOODto use Say technology for earnings call Q&A.

Carvana (NYSE:CVNAto invest $126M in Root (NASDAQ:ROOT) as part of the partnership.

Known to most as Uranium Pinto Beans, Jason has more than 15 years under his belt of trading stocks, options and currencies. His expertise primarily lies in chart analysis, and he has a strong eye for undervalued stock. Because he’s got the ability to identify great risk/reward trades he usually enjoys taking the path less traveled and reaping the benefits from the adventure.

He is a co-founder of Option Millionaires, and he is best known for his weekly webinars with Scott, as well as his high level training webinars and charts found in the forums.

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