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Kevin Matras   
Profit from the Pros
By Kevin Matras
Executive Vice President
Zacks Investment Research

Stocks End Narrowly Mixed In Busy Session Following Fed Announcement

Stocks closed mixed yesterday after the FOMC Announcement and Fed Chair Press Conference.

It was a crazy volatile session. Stocks opened higher. Then added to those gains. Gave some back. Then proceeded to go right back up. After the FOMC Announcement at 2:00 PM ET, stocks shot up even more. But then pared those gains ahead of Jerome Powell's Press Conference at 2:30. And as Mr. Powell spoke, those gains were frittered away with the Dow and the S&P closing modestly lower while the Nasdaq was able to eke out a tiny gain.

The S&P saw more than a 148 point swing, going from a gain as high as 2.22% at its best, to a decline of -1.19% at its worst, before closing with a loss of -0.15%. The Dow was down -0.38%. And the Nasdaq was up 0.02%.

What a day.

So what happened?

Actually, mostly everything that was expected. The Fed reduced their bond buying yet again, with expectations to end their purchases in March. They left interest rates unchanged and hinted that rates wouldn't be raised until they were done with QE, which would make March their earliest rate hike opportunity. And additional balance sheet runoff likely won't happen until they begin hiking rates.

On that news, stocks soared even higher.

But then, when Mr. Powell's Press Conference began, stocks headed in the other direction. Why? He made a few comments that apparently were a bit new to the market. (I don't think any of it was new per se, but this may have been the first time he's said out loud what we've all already known.) His comments that inflation had risen higher than they had expected, and that it could remain more persistent than what they had earlier thought, did not inspire confidence. (Even though we kind of already knew that.)

He noted that he didn't expect the supply chain issues to be worked out by the end of the year, but that he does expect progress to be made. (Again, nothing we haven't all realized on our own.)

But his comments that we need to move to a "substantially less accommodative policy" may have spooked some. What's so spooky about what we already knew was coming? The word 'substantially.' That led some to believe we could see a potentially larger and/or quicker balance sheet runoff. But given its nearly $9 trillion in size, and being unnecessarily larger than it needs to be, this too should hardly be a shocker. And the Fed was careful to say it's "going to take some time," and that they "want the process to be orderly and predictable."

All in all, nothing really unexpected. He used some language that was a bit more hawkish to some. But the actions were right in line with expectations.

So now what?

Expect more volatility. But with the economy poised for another strong year of growth, it looks like there's a lot more upside to go in the market.

So I'd be looking at opportunities to buy.

Especially with earnings season upon us. As you know, stocks typically go up during earnings season. And after the recent selloff, plenty of stocks are now at prices you could only have wished for earlier last year.

To learn how you can take advantage of the current market, be sure to read our latest commentary...

Can Stocks Rebound?


Kevin Matras

Executive Vice President, Zacks Investment Research


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