Stocks Rally On Fed’s Dovish Stance And Soft Jobs Data

Fed’s Dovish Signals

The S&P 500 posted gains for the second consecutive week, bolstered by a more accommodating Federal Reserve and weaker-than-expected jobs data.

The relief among investors followed the Fed’s announcement on Wednesday, which signalled a possible l slowdown in interest rate hikes. This was a shift from earlier concerns that the central bank might adopt a more aggressive stance to combat inflation.

Impact of U.S. Jobs Report

Adding to the positive sentiment, Friday’s U.S. jobs report indicated a payroll increase of only 175,000, significantly below the expected 240,000, with wage growth also falling short of forecasts. This weaker-than-anticipated data eased fears of persistent inflationary pressures, influencing investor sentiment positively.

Market Reaction to Economic Indicators

Expectations were high earlier in the week as markets awaited Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech, hoping it might signal a potential shift in monetary policy.

Although Powell’s remarks primarily focused on inflation and the labour market, the subsequent jobs report underscored a softer stance from the Fed.

Additionally, the disappointing job numbers pushed bond yields lower, with the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield nearing a key support level around 4.42/33%, suggesting possible economic slowdown indicators.

Weekly Market Performance

Encouraged by dovish Federal Reserve signals and weaker economic data, all major indices concluded the week positively. The S&P 500 rose by 0.6%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.4%.

Closing levels on Friday, May 3rd, 2024:

Index Last Change %Change
DOW JONES 38,675.68 +450.02 +1.18%
S&P 500 5,127.79 +63.59 +1.26%
NASDAQ 16,156.33 +315.37 +1.99%
U.S. 10Y 4.663%.
VIX 13.49 -1.19 -8.11%

Market Dynamics Post-Powell Speech

Last week, Jerome Powell significantly influenced market sentiment by announcing that the Federal Reserve does not plan to implement another rate hike. This statement came as a relief to investors, who had been concerned about persistent high inflation prior to the Fed meeting.

With this uncertainty now resolved, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has once again become a driving force, pushing the market upward. The market’s recent fluctuations—down, up, and up again—suggest it is like a tightly coiled spring. Once released, it could lead to significant movements in either direction.

Outlook and Considerations

While last week ended on a positive note with expectations of further upward movement, caution remains advisable. Emerging signs of stagflation are concerning, indicating potential cracks in the U.S. economy. This could negatively impact stock prices, underscoring the importance of remaining vigilant in the face of possible economic shifts.

Source: CBOE, Bloomberg

This commentary is written by James Gomes, a seasoned finance industry veteran with extensive experience of over 30 years, including a substantial tenure at a reputable U.S. bank exceeding 20 years. 

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