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“Those who have the task of making such policy don’t expect you to applaud.” – William McChesney Martin
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There’s no economic data on the calendar and there’s little in the way of earnings news to focus on this morning, so for the next six hours, we’ll only have the Fed to worry about. Markets are still overwhelmingly pricing in a 25 bps hike with the current odds at close to 90%. It’s hard to imagine a rate hike given the weakening macro backdrop and the crisis in the banking sector, but those are the numbers, and at this point, there have been little signs of the problems spreading.
The fact that UK CPI just printed its sixth straight month of double-digit y/y increases and ECB President Christine Lagarde was out saying she doesn’t see clear evidence that inflation is trending down doesn’t help the cause of those calling for a pause. Those are trends literally an ocean away, though, and over on this side of the Atlantic, just about every inflation indicator we track has been trending lower. Whatever decision the FOMC makes, it’s safe to assume that there will be no shortage of critics after the fact, and we don’t envy the position that Powell is in.
Heading into today’s rate decision, most sectors have traded down over the last week with Real Estate and Energy leading the way lower. Surprisingly, in the middle of a banking ‘crisis’ Financials isn’t even the worst performing sector as it is down less than 1% over the last five trading days and isn’t even the worst performing sector on a YTD basis. Sure, it’s down over 6.5%, but Utilities and Energy are also both down more than the Financials.
While Financials, Utilities, and Energy have been a drag on the market, Communication Services, Technology, and Consumer Discretionary have been the main drivers of gains this year. Not only are they the only sectors up more than 1% on the year, but they’re also all up over 10%, so these three sectors are basically in a league of their own versus the rest of the field.
Lately, Technology has been the clear leader. It’s only the second-best performing sector YTD, but its further above its 50-DMA than any other sector, and it’s on the verge of breaking out of the sideways range it has been in for the last two months.
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