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Markets Rip Higher on Bank of England Signifier

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Markets ripped higher this Hump Day, though all major indices begged off session highs mere minutes before the closing bell. Part of this was quelling a six-day sell-off, which had been based on recession fears regarding the Fed’s hawkish behavior presently and presumably going forward. But part of it stems from a new sliver of positive light shining through the shards: the Bank of England (BoE) stepped into reverse course when things in the UK were starting to go south.

To recap: here in the States, we woke up to a BoE announcement that “significant repricing” of UK and global assets was now in order, following a steep slide in the British pound versus the U.S. dollar, and as the new government was planning to issue tax cuts at a time when such moves are enormously unpopular among the world’s most important economies; even the Bank of Japan recently decided to step in and backstop the yen, which almost never happens.

This caused a surge in gilt yields in the UK not seen since the 1950s, bringing the pound back up to 2008 levels. But more importantly to the U.S. stock market investor, this move by the central bank gives Americans a clue that Fed Chair Powell & Co. could step in and reverse interest rate tightening if economic trends are tipping into deep-recession mode sometime in the (near?) future. Which allows a measure of relief to those market participants believing we were on a sinking rowboat with a blind captain…

Anyway, the Dow shot back +547 points, +1.88% on the day, while the Nasdaq grew +222 points or +2.05%. The S&P split the difference, +1.97%, and the small-cap Russell 2000 had its biggest day since March, +3.57% in today’s session alone. All 11 sectors on the S&P made gains, led by Energy and Communications. On the Dow, only Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and Procter & Gamble (PG - Free Report) finished the day lower. All major indices are still down -7.50-8.00% over the past month, but it was a nice bounce today nonetheless.

We should also note that, along with equities screaming lower over the past two trading weeks, Treasury bond yields — on the 2-year and 10-year, especially — had been growing more inflamed. They’ve cooled notably today, while keeping their inverted margin intact: 10-year yields were at 3.73% and 2-years were 4.13%. Keep in mind just yesterday 2-years had crept north of 4.3% for a time, with some threat of moving higher. At least for today, that fever appears to have broken.

Finally, Pending Home Sales for August dropped by a steeper rate than expected: -2.0% versus -1.4% consensus and the more deeply revised -1.0% for July. The -24.2% drop year over year on sales of pending homes in the biggest decrease annually since April 2020, at the initial downward thrust of the Covid pandemic. Yesterday, we saw New Home Sales shoot in the opposite direction, +28.8% to their highest level since March of this year.

That was contrary to lots of other housing data we’ve seen of late, and continues to be an outlier with pending home sales sinking further. Ultimately, this is the sort of thing the Fed needs to see consistently for it to change its collective mind on interest rate hikes, which have gone up 75 basis points (bps) for three sessions in a row, going back to June. The Fed skips October but comes back November 2nd for its next move; lower inflation data across the board is about the only thing to keep the next move from being 75 bps once again.

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