Riding the Tides of Fed Hikes: The High Stakes and Uncertainty of the Stock Market’s Anniversary
Riding the Tides of Fed Hikes:
Stocks are facing a critical moment as the U.S. Federal Reserve enters its quiet period before deciding on interest rates on March 22. Investors are on edge following last week’s downfall of high-profile lender SVB Financial Group and are apprehensive about the potential risks hiding on other banks’ balance sheets. As a result, eyes will turn to Tuesday’s announcement of the consumer price index, which will set the stage for a make-or-break stretch for stocks leading up to the central bank’s announcement and Chair Jerome Powell’s discussion of the future path.
There’s heightened sensitivity among investors to the CPI data, given the Fed’s interest-rate cycle’s impact on the economy, warns Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management. “This is somewhat of a fragile time for equities,” he added. Nevertheless, the CPI report is anticipated to show ebbing inflation pressures, strengthening reemerging bets in the swaps market that could end the Fed’s tightening campaign around mid-year and cut rates by year-end, laying the foundation for an equities rebound in the second half of 2023.
The past year has been brutal for stocks since the Fed began its tightening campaign on March 16, 2022, which dented the allure of technology and growth shares, with the Nasdaq 100 Index plunging 33% in its largest drop since 2008. Although stocks rallied to start 2023, they have since come back down, with the S&P 500 essentially flat for the year. Therefore, this week’s economic figures could carry significant risk.
The Fed officials are silent, and investors remain apprehensive about the central bank’s policy path as all eyes are on the CPI data. Any indication that inflation is still stubbornly elevated could reignite bets on a more hawkish Fed, putting considerable pressure on expensive corners of the stock market, such as technology. At the end of last week, swaps traders downshifted wagers on the Fed’s peak rate to roughly 5.3% at midyear from as high as 5.7% in September, fueling the most significant tumble in two-year Treasury yields since 2008, and traders now favor a…
– The S&P 500 index plunged by more than 4% last week after SVB Financial Group collapsed.
– The U.S. stocks are concerned about potential risks hiding on other banks’ balance sheets.
– The question is swirling around the Fed’s policy path as the central bank enters its quiet period.
The stock market is at a pivotal stage. Investors are on edge, needing soothing more than ever, and await the upcoming CPI data to set the stage for a make-or-break stretch for stocks leading up to the central bank’s announcement. Any indication of stubbornly elevated inflation could reignite bets on a hawkish Fed and put considerable pressure on expensive stocks like technology.
The stock market seems fragile at this point. With the Fed’s interest-rate cycle taking its toll on the economy, investors eagerly anticipate the upcoming CPI release to determine the central bank’s future course. The Federal Reserve needs to ensure its policy decisions address the economic situation without adversely affecting markets. Investors must, in turn, remain patient and be aware of existing and potential risks throughout this critical stretch.