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The Fed gave stocks a reprieve, but the all-clear is a ways off: Morning Brief

This article first appeared in the Morning Brief. Get the Morning Brief sent directly to your inbox every Monday to Friday by 6:30 a.m. ET. Subscribe

Friday, March 24, 2023

Today's newsletter is by Jared Blikre, a reporter focused on the markets on Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @SPYJared. Read this and more market news on the go with the Yahoo Finance App.

Stocks partially clawed back Wednesday's post-Fed losses on Thurday, with the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) notching a gain of of 1.0%, while the Russell 2000 (^RUT) settled in the red, down 0.4%.

On the one hand, investors are weighing Powell's hawkish, inflation-fighting comments. On the other, they're weighing signs that the Fed is de facto entering wait-and-see mode — believing its work is nearly done.

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While Powell said the Fed may still have to raise rates further, he came clear saying the Committee was inches away from a no-hike decision on Wednesday.

"[W]e did consider [a pause] in the days running up to the meeting," he said.

This is the closest yet the Fed has come to a change in its uber-hawkish tone since it began its breakneck pace of rate hikes one year ago.

But don't call it a "pivot," and don't sound the all-clear for investors just yet.

The major U.S. indices have been in rally mode since the Fed created a new liquidity facility a week ago last Monday to backstop regional banks. Tech stocks have been the biggest beneficiary, with the Nasdaq 100 (^NDX) up 7.6%.

Nasdaq 100 Components — 9-Day Returns
Nasdaq 100 Components — 9-Day Returns

Long-term rates crashed over these nine trading sessions, which fueled rallies in megacaps like Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), Tesla (TSLA), Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG), and Meta (META) — which all rallied double-digits. Chipmakers Nvidia (NVDA) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) led the way — up 19% and 23%, respectively.

Yet the rally was not broad-based. Not surprisingly, financials suffered additional damage from the bank panic. The S&P 500 Select Financial SPDR Fund (XLF) erased the last of its pandemic gains Thursday. Meanwhile, the SPDR S&P Regional Bank ETF (KRE) sank to a new crisis low — the lowest level since November 2020.

Putting the narrow breadth of the latest rally aside for a minute, even the technicals on the tech trade are showing some cracks.

Zooming out on the Nasdaq 100 reveals it has been stuck in a giant trading range over the last year — roughly 10,500 to 13,000. And it is once again testing that upper bound, having failed there as recently as early February.

The catalyst of lower rates and a weaker dollar are also approaching some big levels, with the U.S. 10-year Treasury-note (^TNX) hugging the 3.4% level by the 2023 lows.

Even the greatest bellwether stock of all, Apple, is up against some tough technicals that suggest its rally may need a "pause" before rallying materially above $165.

Apple (AAPL) has rallied to big, long-term levels of interest
Apple (AAPL) has rallied to big, long-term levels of interest

Without a fresh catalyst and narrative, investors chasing momentum and breakouts are more likely to be punished than rewarded.

In the meantime, Kenneth Rogoff, Maurits C. Boas chair of International Economics at Harvard University, has a message for investors who are betting on the banking crisis abating.

"If we're looking at the world as a whole, I believe we're just experiencing the first wave of this, and there are more to come," said Rogoff on Yahoo Finance Live Thursday.

What to Watch Today

Economy

  • Durable goods orders, February; S&P flash U.S. composite PMI

Earnings

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