Dow tumbles. The stock market is practically begging to be punished

Markets have fallen over the past month as the Federal Reserve telegraphed that it would steadily raise interest rates by half a percentage point for the foreseeable future to combat persistent inflation growth. Wednesday, Dow (UNDUE) lost over 1,000 points and the broader market lost 3.6%, putting the S&P500 (SPX) on the precipice of bear market territory.
Today, investors are asking for more. They are calling for a three-quarter point rate hike at the end of the Fed’s June meeting, despite assurances from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell that such a large hike is not on the cards.

Bank of America analysts wrote in a note that they fear there will soon be a wage-price spiral in the United States due to the risks that “the Fed will raise too little”. The current market reaction, they said, suggests that “investors view the Fed moving too slowly in the fight against inflation”: a 75 [basis point] hike might have been dreaded but it seems like it would have been preferred.”

Nomura Securities predicted that the Fed will raise the federal funds rate by three-quarters of a point in June and July after their half-point hike in May.

“We recognize that Fedspeak has not yet approved a 75 basis point hike, but in this high inflation regime, we believe the nature of the Fed’s forward guidance has changed – it has become more data dependent and more agile,” said Rob Subbaraman, Global Head of Nomura. market studies, in a note.

The Fed could raise rates to 5% by the end of the current tightening period, said Deutsche Bank’s chief economist. It would be the highest level since 2006.

Fed funds futures traders see a 9% chance that the Federal Reserve will raise its main policy rate target by three-quarters of a point in June, to between 1.5% and 1.75%, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard fanned the flames for a potential three-quarter point hike this year in public speeches and Cleveland Federal Reserve Chair Loretta Mester told the Japanese Nikkei that a rise of 0.75 percentage point could not be ruled out later. this year in an interview on Monday.
A screen shows a press conference with Jerome Powell, Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, following the announcement of the Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates by half a percentage point on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 4, 2022.

So why are markets fighting the Fed chief’s assurances that a bigger hike won’t happen in June – and hurting themselves predicting it will?

“When a Fed official suggests a 50 basis point hike, markets immediately start trying to price in 75 basis point hikes,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner of Harris Financial Group. “It really is madness.”

The Dow fell 3,930 points, or 11% in 2022. The S&P 500 fell almost 14% and the Nasdaq Composite lost more than 25%.

“Powell tried to take the 75 basis point rise off the table at the last press conference,” said David Lebovitz, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

But the following week, the consumer price index, a key measure of inflation, jumped 8.3% for the year. The measure was lower than the 8.5% increase in March, but higher than the 8.1% increase expected by economists.
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The problems between the markets and the Fed may have less to do with an eye for self-flagellation and more to do with a growing mistrust of the institution. The old “don’t fight the Fed” mantra has turned into “don’t believe the Fed”.

“People are starting to lose faith in the idea that the Fed really has its arms around inflation,” Lebovitz said. “It’s about getting a handle on what the Fed is going to do and unfortunately, given the lack of clear guidance from the Fed and an inflation report that surprised on the upside, investors are feeling a bit uneasy. easy.”

Even former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cast doubt this week when he broke the unspoken edict of former Fed chairs not to speak ill of their successors. The Fed made a mistake in delaying its decision to raise rates, he said during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday.

“And I think they agree that was a mistake.”

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