Inflation Concerns Mount as Stocks Continue Scintillating Pace

The May reading of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) confirms higher prices are here, but equities continue to soar.

For the month ending June 14, the S&P 500 is higher by 4.66%. Combine that showing with the proximity to the all-time highs major domestic equity benchmarks entered June at and it’s not a stretch to say stocks are providing ample cover from inflation.

“The S&P 500 Index begins the month at a fresh record high after being stuck in a narrow trading pattern for two months. Technology and other growth sectors have reemerged as the market leaders, with the NASDAQ less than 1% below a record high and showing gains in four straight weeks,” says Nationwide’s Mark Hackett.

Steadying Treasury yields, which could, if durable, support a resurgence in growth stocks, are contributing to the recent bullishness in equities. When 10-year Treasury yields extended their run higher in the first quarter, technology stocks were pinched owing to their longer duration cash flows.

“This shift is seen as a reaction to lower interest rates, improving valuations and the likely peak in earnings growth in the next few quarters have many predicting a resurgence of the growth leadership that drove much of the post-financial crisis bull market and a stall in the pro-cyclical ‘reopening’ trade,” adds Hackett.

Still, investors may not want to ditch inflation-fighting strategies simply because bond yields are easing and growth stocks are perking up. In fact, some market observers are concerned inflation won’t be as transitory as previously expected. For example, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon said Monday the largest U.S. bank is hoarding cash on the notion that inflation will last longer than expected.

“We have a lot of cash and capability and we’re going to be very patient, because I think you have a very good chance inflation will be more than transitory,” said Dimon at a conference.

For investors looking to ward off inflationary effects with equities, there is some good news: stock valuations aren’t as rich as the multiples on other assets.

“Tremendous liquidity in the global capital markets has resulted in elevated valuations in nearly all asset classes, including equities, bonds, commodities, and real estate. While equity market valuations get the most attention, they are arguably the least extended among the asset classes,” concludes Nationwide’s Hackett.

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