The Federal Reserve put a hitch in the markets’ giddy-up last week.
It wasn’t the Fed’s second interest rate hike in a decade that caused markets to stumble. December’s rate hike was old news before it happened. In mid-December, Reuters reported Fed funds futures indicated there was a 97 percent probability the Fed would raise rates one-quarter percent at its December Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. In addition, all 120 economists polled by Reuters agreed rates were headed higher.
It was the dot plot – a chart showing FOMC members’ assessments of appropriate monetary policy going forward – that unsettled investors. Barron’s explained:
“The market, however, was surprised when the Fed turned ever-so more hawkish, with its “dot plot” indicating three rate hikes next year, up from two. Still, stocks handled the news better than might be expected, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropping 0.8 percent immediately following the announcement but still finishing the week down just 0.1 percent to 2258.07. The NASDAQ Composite fell 0.1 percent to 5437.16, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 86.56 points, or 0.4 percent, to 19843.41, its sixth consecutive winning week.”
Bond market investors weren’t too happy last week, either. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes has nearly doubled during the past five months, rising from 1.36 percent to 2.6 percent. When bond rates move higher, bond prices move lower.
If there is a silver lining for bond investors, it may be some specialists believe changes in Treasury rates will be modest during 2017. Barron’s reported, “For what it’s worth, the 10 firms surveyed in our Outlook 2017 see the 10-year yield at 2.69 percent late next year, just a tad above today’s level.”
* These are the general views of Jonathan DeYoe and they should not be construed as investment advice for any individual.
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* The original “Weekly Commentary” was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Jonathan DeYoe is a member of Peak Advisor Alliance and adds, subtracts and edits before publishing.
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* “The FED Turns Hawkish”