Stocks are rallying even as the Fed sticks to its hawkish tone on interest rates…
The following is an amended version of the Feb. 2 Daily Contrarian. This briefing and accompanying podcast are released to premium subscribers each market day morning by 0700. To subscribe, visit our Substack or Supercast.
The Federal Reserve yesterday raised interest rates by 25 basis points as expected and didn’t materially change the language in its policy statement, causing a brief dip in stock prices. That promptly gave way to buying even as Jerome Powell didn’t provide anything in the way of Pivot Hope-ium either. At the end of the day stocks had rallied significantly, with tech the major winner. The Nasdaq was up 2% and S&P 500 up 1%.
It’s hard to find anything particularly dovish about the FOMC statement or Powell’s press conference. No matter. For whatever reasons investors have decided that the Fed is not going to break stuff or hurt the market anymore. That is what yesterday’s (and last month’s) activity tells us at least. How else to explain the massive rally we’ve seen in tech stocks in particular?
Whatever happened to ‘don’t fight the Fed’? Are we missing something here or is this a massive game of denial going on right now? Or maybe the mother of all dead cat bounces?
Maybe Powell’s comment that only “a couple more rate hikes” are needed “to get to that level we think is appropriately restrictive” was enough? Perhaps this removes any uncertainty of further hikes beyond this year from the hearts and minds of investors? But then you have to ignore a ton of hawkish commentary including a line in the policy statement that “ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate.”
Okay, so maybe investors figure this is all hot air and the Fed is going to be data dependent? Great, but what if the data forces the Fed to hike rather than cut? Is that possibility simply off the table now?
Anyway, RIP Don’t Fight the Fed. Long live Don’t Fight the Tape.
This podcast episode was recorded Jan. 18, 2023, with a short clip of actionable highlights distributed to premium subscribers the following day. The full podcast episode followed a day after that. To become a premium subscriber and take advantage of this and a host of other benefits, visit our Supercast or Substack and sign up!
Mike Edwards, deputy chief investment officer at Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisers, joins the podcast to discuss China’s post-Covid reopening and why its impact on global markets is not being fully priced in by investors.
China’s abrupt U-turn over ‘Zero Covid’ is unquestionably one of the biggest changes to take effect in the global economy over the last few months (2:23);
There have been reservations about this reopening, but it is happening with authoritative force and will have a major positive impact (5:08);
What about the US de-coupling from China and the embattled real estate sector? (11:00)
Where this will be felt most is in markets that have exposure to the Chinese consumer. It also points to Europe and emerging markets outperforming the US (17:54);
Chinese consumers were far more restrained than their US counterparts during Covid and have been slower to return — especially tourists. This is not just a one-off in terms of the resurgence of Chinese travel and services (24:20);
What to make of the latest economic developments in the US, especially with the consumer? (27:31);
Weiss’s house view is that the US will avoid recession this year (34:02);
Background on the guest (37:49);
China can re-emerge without the US as a major partner (51:36);
After some consolidation, the US economic and market cycle is marked by investors seeking to put money to work — slowly (57:18).