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Wall Street Weighs Debt Ceiling Deal and Fed Rate Hike Concerns Amidst Dow Jones Decline

May 31, 2023

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a decline as investors considered the prospects of Congress passing a tentative deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. The index closed down 50.56 points or 0.15% at 33,042.78. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 managed to eke out a minimal gain of 0.002%, closing at 4,205.52, and the Nasdaq Composite rose by 0.32% to finish at 13,017.43, albeit after paring back earlier gains.

Over the weekend, President Joe Biden and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling, aiming to avoid a default. The proposed bill will require support from both Republicans and Democrats to pass, with Congress scheduled to vote on it as early as Wednesday. Despite this progress, there are still hurdles to overcome in the House, as opposition within the GOP has been growing.

Investors also expressed concerns about the possibility of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. According to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool, traders are currently pricing in a 68.8% chance of a rate increase next month. Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin maintained his rate forecast, stating that he hasn’t changed his position and that his forecast is among the higher ones within the central bank. The market is closely watching the Fed’s actions and how incoming inflation data will influence its decisions.

The Nasdaq received a boost from Nvidia, an artificial intelligence-related stock, which saw a nearly 3% rally. The stock reached a market capitalization of $1 trillion during Tuesday’s session, joining the elite group of companies that have achieved this milestone, following its strong earnings report from the previous week.

All sectors' performances amidst concerns of a potential raise to the US debt ceiling.

Data by Bloomberg

On Tuesday, the overall market performance was neutral, with all sectors collectively showing no change (+0.00%). Among the sectors that experienced gains, Consumer Discretionary had the highest increase of 0.76%, followed by Information Technology at 0.63%. Real Estate showed a modest increase of 0.27%. On the other hand, several sectors recorded losses. Consumer Staples had the largest decrease of 1.08%, followed by Energy with a decline of 0.94%. Health Care experienced a decrease of 0.67%, while Materials and Utilities both had losses of 0.59% and 0.39% respectively. Communication Services and Industrials also showed declines of 0.07% and 0.23% respectively. Financials remained unchanged at 0.00%.

Major Pair Movement

The EUR/USD currency pair showed signs of recovery from its 10-week lows on Tuesday, although there is a possibility that it may be influenced by the “sell in May and go away” stock market adage if U.S. data continue to outperform and investors continue to reduce their expectations of a Federal Reserve interest rate cut. These rate cut bets had increased during the U.S. regional banking crisis but have been diminishing and could decrease further if the debt limit deal is approved. The Federal Reserve’s cautious stance on rate hikes during the banking crisis and debt ceiling issue has eased, contributing to a 4.5% rebound in the dollar index since early May. However, it remains below the peak reached before the banking crisis.

The EUR/USD’s slight gain on Tuesday, despite a more bearish outlook, may only be a temporary bounce driven by month-end and pre-U.S. payroll book-squaring activities. The currency pair experienced a significant bearish reversal in May and is expected to retrace at least a portion of its recovery from 2022-23. The USD/JPY and EUR/JPY pairs both declined, with the yen gaining strength due to stable Japanese government bond yields compared to falling Treasury and bund yields following the debt ceiling deal. The USD/JPY also fell after reaching six-month highs as yen short positions became cautious following a meeting between the U.S. and Bank of Japan, which hinted at the possibility of FX intervention to support the yen if necessary. This intervention is viewed more seriously due to previous interventions in late 2023 that resulted in yen weakness and inflation surpassing the Bank of Japan’s 2% target. Sterling gained while the AUD/USD pair declined on concerns related to China.

Picks of the Day Analysis

EUR/USD (4 Hours)

EUR/USD Rebounds as USD Weakens, Debt Limit Drama Looms.

The EUR/USD experienced a slight increase, propelling the Euro to its best day in over a week. Despite the Eurozone’s Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices declining more than expected, the US dollar’s decline against European currencies and the yen provided support. However, the positive news for the European Central Bank regarding inflation may have negative implications for the common currency. Meanwhile, the US faces a potential debt default if Congress fails to pass a bill, adding to growing Republican opposition to the deal. Additionally, economic data shows a drop in the US Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index and the unexpected decline of the Dallas Fed Manufacturing Business Index. Important upcoming releases include the Chicago PMI, ADP Employment Report, and Nonfarm Payrolls report.

Chart of EURUSD performance amidst concerns of a potential raise to the US debt ceiling.

Chart EURUSD by TradingView

According to technical analysis, the EUR/USD pair is moving higher on Tuesday, rising above the 1.07 level and attempting to reach the upper band of the Bollinger Bands. It is anticipated that the EUR/USD will continue its upward movement today and strive to surpass the upper band of the Bollinger Bands. The Relative Strength Index (RSI) is currently at 48, indicating that the EUR/USD has returned to a neutral position.

Resistance: 1.0788, 1.0848

Support: 1.0715, 1.0655

XAU/USD (4 Hours)

Gold (XAU/USD) Rebounds as Debt Ceiling Optimism Fades and Market Concerns Mount

Gold prices (XAU/USD) experienced a rebound after hitting a low point for the day, trading near a daily high as optimism in financial markets wavered following news of a debt ceiling agreement to prevent a default in the US. However, sentiment deteriorated after a slow start to the week and concerns about lawmakers from both major parties being reluctant to pass the deal, reigniting fears of a default. Asian and European indexes traded mixed, influencing Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average declining around 120 points and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite struggling to maintain stability. Additionally, US CB Consumer Confidence decreased less than expected in May, indicating a somewhat less positive view of current conditions while expectations remained pessimistic.

Chart XAUUSD performance amidst concerns of a potential raise to the US debt ceiling.

Chart XAUUSD by TradingView

According to technical analysis, the XAU/USD is moving higher on Tuesday, reaching the upper band of the Bollinger Bands and touching the resistance level at $1,962. There is a possibility that the XAU/USD will make a slight downward movement and return to the middle of the Bollinger Bands before moving higher again today. Currently, the Relative Strength Index (RSI) stands at 55, indicating that the XAU/USD is in a neutral position but slightly bullish.

Resistance: $1,962, $1,991

Support: $1,934, $1,913

Economic Data

CurrencyDataTime (GMT + 8)Forecast
AUDConsumer Price Index09:306.4%
EURGerman Prelim CPITentative0.2%
CADGross Domestic Product20:30-0.1%
USDJOLTS Job Openings22:009.41M