As expected, the Federal Reserve raised short term interest rates by one quarter point and indicated that they will keep raising rates throughout the year albeit gradually. I do think what helped the markets yesterday was the language of only two more rate hikes this year. The economic data coming out so far is stronger than expected including the February jobs report which confirmed how the job market is continuing to expand and this had some pundits thinking three more rate hikes were in the cards for 2017, not just two. Markets rallied once again on the news and quite frankly the market is seemingly rallying on anything that hits the tape. That said, the Federal Reserve is doing a masterful job with how it is handling the change of guard so to speak from accommodation to raising rates and how they are communicating each message.
So what does this mean to the markets going forward? I gotta tell you as much as I have been expecting volatility to increase, my expectations now are as long as the Fed remains in its current position, volatility may just stay in hibernation until further notice. I have not seen a market to where vol has been and remains this low. As I write this blog the CBOE Market Volatility Index also know as the VIX remains historically low and even when there is pressure on stocks, the VIX does not move very much, just look at the chart below.
Taking a look at the four major indices, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (chart), the S&P 500 (chart), the Nasdaq (chart) and the small-cap Russell 2000 (chart) all are within striking distance of their record highs. The question now becomes will valuations be able to support the continuation of this bull market or will this be the catalyst to bring pause into this historic bull run. We won’t have to wait too much longer as the first quarter of 2017 winds down and companies prepare to report their earnings results beginning in April. Paula and I wish everyone a very safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day 🙂