Central banks seem to be changing their tunes, with the Federal Reserve expected to cut rates twice before the year is out, according to Manulife Investment Management’s third quarter outlook.
The European Central Bank, noted the outlook, is also likely to take a move dovish tone, with additional monetary easing measures, including rate cuts, expected in the latter half of the year. Indeed, Manulife said it expects almost every single major central bank to ease monetary policies over the next six months.
June’s G20 meeting between world leaders eased some but not all uncertainties. In particular, trade tariffs between the U.S. and China will continue to hold investor attention, but the possibility of the U.S. reviving the conversation about tariffs on the European automobile sector is also a key tail risk that Manulife will be watching.
The uncertainty is weighing on global business, especially in the U.S., which is seeing lower hiring, noted the report. The tension also increases complexity around global supply chains. Nevertheless, U.S. consumers don’t appear to be feeling the impact of the uncertainty just yet. In fact, consumer confidence remains close to record highs, which is an important boost since they make up two-thirds of U.S. growth, the outlook said.
All things considered, the firm said it expects the U.S. to avoid a technical recession, but it will suffer from weak growth. A less oft discussed dampener of growth is the country’s lacklustre industrial production, which the outlook noted is of particular important to the equity markets because of its tie to corporate earnings. “Broadly speaking, the muted industrial production growth we’re currently witnessing is consistent with low single-digit earnings growth, which is unlikely to nudge the S&P 500 index higher.”
Home sales in the U.S. could also continue to decelerate, according to the report, but that trend is likely to be short-lived due to the meaningful impact of the pullback in interest rates.