Daily Brief For May 3, 2023

Hike and pause “not fully priced into equities.”


The S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX) recovered after a violent sell-off led by products like the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (NYSE: KRE). This is before updates on the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) monetary policy today.

Graphic: Retrieved from Danny Kirsch of Piper Sandler Companies (NYSE: PIPR).

The consensus is the Fed ratchets up the target rate to 5.00-5.25%. Following this, it is likely to keep rates at this higher level for longer than markets expect, letting the effects of the tightening work through the economy and tame the still-sticky inflation (e.g., lenders eating the cost of interest to sell more goods, job vacancies dropping, and payrolls surprising higher).

Graphic: Retrieved from Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) via Bloomberg. “The Fed’s own projections from March suggest rates will be only just above 5% by year’s end — implying a protracted pause with no cuts, after the most aggressive hiking campaign in decades. It’s marked in red in the chart [above].”

Strategists at JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM) think a “hike and pause” scenario prompts a push higher in stocks.

“Here, the Fed would be relying on a tightening of lending standards stemming from the banking crisis to act as de facto rate hikes. Any language that the market interprets as the Fed being on pause should benefit stocks,” JPM wrote. “This outcome is not fully priced into equities.”

This idea was alluded to in yesterday’s letter; stocks likely do “ok” in a higher rates for longer environment. Beyond economic surprises and the debt ceiling issue, the Fed’s balance sheet (not likely to be addressed in this next announcement) strategists like Andy Constan of Damped Spring Advisors are most concerned about, since the size of quantitative easing or QE made stocks less sensitive to interest rates. Ratcheting quantitative tightening or QT, the flow of capital out of markets, would prompt some increased bearishness among those strategists.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) via Macro Ops.

JPM strategists add the market may continue “artificially suppress[ing] perceptions of fundamental macro risks,” prompting upside momentum.

“We expect these inflows to persist over the next two weeks, with several more large returns expected to drop from the trailing sample window,” Tier1Alpha explains. “Even if market volatility increases during this time, it would take exceptionally significant moves to trigger substantial selling. While these inflows are advantageous during market upswings, it’s essential to remember that they can be particularly brutal on the way back down once volatility inevitably returns.”

Eventually, “as recessionary conditions proliferate,” EPB’s Eric Basmajian says, asset prices will turn. Downside accelerants include the debt limit breach, which Nasdaq Inc (NASDAQ: NDAQ) and Moody’s Corporation (NYCE: MCO) think portends recession and volatility spike.

Trade ideas and more in our recently published report.

Graphic: Retrieved from Bloomberg.


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