Growing optimism that the Fed may be ready to ease future interest rate hikes sent stocks higher in a quiet trading week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.78%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 1.53%. The Nasdaq Composite index improved 0.72% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, advanced 2.33%.1,2,3
In light holiday-week trading, stocks rallied as investors grew more hopeful of a slowdown in a future rate hike. The release of the minutes from the early November meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) fed investors’ optimism. Fed officials suggested such easing may be coming soon. Investor sentiment was also lifted by unexpectedly strong retailer earnings, upside surprises in new economic data, and a better-than-expected consumer sentiment reading. Investors looked past the continuing Covid-related challenges that have stymied China’s economic recovery and its attendant implications for global growth.
The Fed meeting minutes, released before the Thanksgiving holiday, showed that most Fed officials felt a slowing in interest rate increases would be appropriate. The minutes also suggested that such a deceleration in rate hikes may begin with December’s meeting with a 50 basis point hike rather than a fifth consecutive boost of 75 basis points.4 The primary reasons for slowing the pace of rate hikes were the growing risk that the Fed may increase rates beyond what was required to reduce inflation to its two percent target and signs that inflation pressures were easing.5
1. The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2022, 2. The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2022, 3. The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2022, 4. The Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2022, 5. The Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2022