NEI Monthly Market Insights: September 2023

Oct 16, 2023

September lives up to its reputation

September lived up to its reputation for being a historically challenging month for markets, as both equity and bond markets saw their worst declines of the year. The S&P 500 Index was down 4.9% in September— its second monthly decline in a row, while the Nasdaq was down 5.8%. Canadian markets did not fare much better than their U.S. peers, with the TSX falling 3.7% for the month. In September, investors’ focus shifted from whether there will be another hike in the near term, to how long rates will be held at restrictive levels. The prevailing narrative is that interest rates will remain “higher for longer” as central banks continue to indicate restrictive rates to be necessary for some time to tame inflationary pressures.

The NEI perspective

Growth trends diverge between regions as the U.S. economy looks the most resilient despite some areas of slowing growth, while Canada has a higher risk of a recession as GDP slows, and Europe appears to be headed for recession as economic data continues to surprise to the downside.

Inflation to recede by year-end as year-over-year Consumer Price Index data continues to fall in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, plus higher energy prices are beginning to reduce consumer spending in other areas.

Rates likely to remain “higher for longer” as the Fed’s latest meeting showed a revised dot plot reflecting minimal interest rate cuts starting in 2024. The bond market has also been adjusting to this narrative as yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasuries soared up to 4.6% in September, a level not seen since 2007.

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