Finally The Fed Raises Rates!

After 9 years of essentiality zero percent interest rates, the Federal Reserve today raised its benchmark interest rate one quarter of one point. Investor’s embraced the Fed’s action lifting all of the key major averages. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed up 224 points, the Nasdaq (chart) up 76 points, the S&P 500 (chart) up 29 points and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed out the session up 17 points. The street gained confidence when Fed officials also provided clarity as to their upcoming intentions regarding further rate hikes. Such hikes would only move up between 0.25% and 0.5% and would be subject to future economic activity and data. Another takeaway today is that the Federal Reserve has enough confidence in the current economy to raise rates and confidence in future growth in the foreseeable future. If you are bullish on the markets it doesn’t get better than this. Which is a tepid Federal Reserve while considering raising rates and an economic backdrop that seemingly is demonstrating growth albeit in a moderate manner.

So which sectors could benefit the most from a rising interest rate environment? One sector I will turn my attention to is the banking sector. Banks tend to earn more when rates move up simply because they can charge more interest on the loans they make. There are individual bank names that one can consider but for me personally I would rather position myself in the largest banking exchange traded fund (ETF) Symbol: XLF. The XLF’s top holdings include the likes of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) Citigroup (NYSE: C) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) just to name a few. So you get the diversity of multiple money center banks and other banking related institutions which spreads out some risk. That said, it is best practice to consult with your financial advisor(s) before making any investment decisions.

I do think that investors and traders alike can now breathe a sigh of relief now that the Fed has made its first move and the markets cheered that with enthusiasm. Good luck to all!

Both Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season 🙂


Are Stocks Poised To Breakout?

After an early November sell-off, the major averages could be on the verge of a breakout, at least from a technical point of view. The noticeable dip in equities that occurred recently was met with strong support and now stocks have rallied up to key resistance levels. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart) closed the month of November at 17720, the Nasdaq (chart) closed at 5109, the S&P 500 (chart) closed at 2075 and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) closed the month of November at 1198. As you can see by their charts the three top indices have resistance levels of 18,000, 5175 and 2125 respectively while the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) is seemingly on the verge of breaking out. That said, it takes more than a day or two trading above a resistance level with strong volume to confirm a breakout. What could be in favor for a breakout with all of the aforementioned indexes is the seasonality of the markets a.k.a. the Santa Clause rally. This could very well be the catalyst for a year-end rally.

What could get in the way of a potential Santa Clause rally? One example could be if the technical resistance line(s) holds true to form and the key indices cannot breakout with conviction above these marks . There is also the risk of China’s market continuing to abate as regulators are cracking down on trading practices of major Chinese brokerage firms. The China weakness can spill over here to our shores even if it is only a short-term consequence. Of course there is always a geo-political risk that could weigh in on market sentiment and behavior. And last but not least, the Good Ole Federal Reserve and whether or not they would implement their first rate hike in almost a decade when they meet later this month.

That said and notwithstanding any of these risks, we have seen stocks incredibly resilient during this multi-year bull run and I would not be surprised if we indeed breakout and experience a year-end rally that could challenge the all time highs. Good luck to all 🙂