Bernanke Looms, Leading to Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Recently, President Obama told Charlie Rose in a PBS interview that Bernanke has "already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to." Soon after, traders began speculating that Mr. Bernanke might announce he was leaving tomorrow. Many others believe President Obama will make that announcement in the fall.

By: Bob Pisani
Published: Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013
CNBC

Anxiety is mounting over Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's presser tomorrow. Perhaps inadvertently, President Obama has added fuel to the fire by telling Charlie Rose in a PBS interview that Bernanke has "already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to."

Immediately, traders began speculating that Mr. Bernanke might announce he was leaving tomorrow.

He'll certainly be asked, but there's virtually no chance he will make any kind of formal announcement. That said, I do believe he is stepping down: announcing he would not be present at Jackson Hole was the clearest signal. A formal announcement from Bernanke tomorrow, however? No way. The President will make that announcement,likely in the fall.

Regardless, the Fed's policy-making apparatus is likely to remain status quo. Assuming Janet Yellen is the choice to run the Fed, the FOMC will remain dovish, even if her replacement is more hawkish. The only two clear hawks on the 2014 FOMC are Charles Plosser (Philadelphia) and Richard Fisher (Dallas).

Elsewhere:

1) CPI showed May inflation remains tame. Consumer prices were up 1.4 percent, ex-food and energy 1.7 percent, year over year. That is well below the 2.0 percent target set by the Fed. That will give the Fed more room to continue QE3 if it needs to.

2) ECB head Mario Draghi said it again: he'll do whatever it takes to save the euro. At a dinner in Jerusalem, he also implied that there were plenty of other measures they could take. What measures would those be, however? Long-term loans to banks, or another Long Term Refinancing Operation (LTRO)? Loans to medium and small businesses, perhaps?

He didn't say, but Mr. Kuroda —the head of the Bank of Japan — should take a cue from Mr. Draghi and make it clear that he too will do whatever it takes.

3) Hormel Foods slides 4.8 percent premarket after the packaged-food company lowered its full-year earnings guidance. HRL cited lower-than-expected results in its pork business, higher input costs, and softer sales in the refrigerated foods segment. The company sees 2013 earnings per share (EPS) at $1.88 to $1.96, lower than its previous view of $1.93 to $2.03. Analysts see 2013 EPS at $1.99.

4) Michael Hartnett at Bank of America, in his latest Fund Manager Survey, confirms that fund managers are moving out of bonds (50 percent say they are underweight bonds as opposed to 38 percent last month).

By contrast, 48 percent said they were overweight stocks, up from 41 percent last month, specifically European and U.S. stocks. A net 25 percent are overweight U.S. stocks specifically, the highest level in 13 months. Emerging market exposure is lower. Perhaps most importantly a net 56 percent said the global economy would grow in the next 12 months.

Perhaps removing stimulus may not be so negative for stocks?

5) Housing starts were up in May, but less than expected (914,000 vs. 950,000 expected). The shortfall was mainly in multifamily, which is a volatile group. Single family, too, was also a bit disappointing. It's not clear if this is the start of a trend; however, single family units are still up about 25 percent from a year ago.

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