From the Desk of Willie Delwiche
When the Fed raised rates to 4.50% in early February, the market was expecting that any additional tightening this Spring would be taken back (and then some) and that by the end of the year the Fed Funds Rate would be at 4.25%. Now, the market is pricing in a year-end Fed Funds Rate of at least 5.25%. Over the course of a month, market expectations for rates have shifted higher by a full percentage point.
Why It Matters: Stocks stumbled in February as the markets digested the shift in expectations from “rate cuts by the end of the year” to a “higher for longer” reality. This led to investors who had been slow to embrace stock market strength to reconsider recently discovered optimism. We have documented that stocks tend to do well in the wake of persistent pessimism. Under-pinning this analysis is the assumption that pessimism is indeed fading. If expectations for higher rates lead to renewed pessimism, it will be difficult for sustainable strength to emerge. You need to have bulls to have a bull market. As we move into March we see evidence that investors are saying “thanks but no thanks.”
In this week’s Sentiment Report we see that investors are having second thoughts on stocks, how volatility has remained persistent and even with yields still rising, why bonds are relatively more attractive than stocks.