Stock Market Insights: Slow down, please

The blue homemade sign wired to the tree said, “25 MPH” in bold black letters. It was a desperate attempt by the homeowner to get cars on the side street to slow down despite several city signs showing the speed limit.

The Fed just made one final attempt to get the economy to slow down, too.

The Federal Reserve, the greatest influence in the stock market in the past two years, raised its rate again on July 26. It was the 11th rate increase since March 2022, making it the highest rate level since early 2001.

The Fed fights inflation by raising rates to slow down the economy. Higher rates make taking out loans more expensive. More specifically, when the Fed makes loans more expensive, fewer people buy houses and cars, slowing down a large part of the U.S. economy until inflation is where they want it to be.

I think this was the Fed’s last rate increase for this cycle, with both inflation and the job market decreasing. The most significant reason is that inflation is down from its 40-year high last summer and continues to trend downward. The June Consumer Price Index (inflation report) was down to 3%, which is quite a bit lower than the 9.1% from June 2022.

If the Fed has finished raising interest rates and considering lower rates in the next few quarters, we could see some changes in the market. I would expect to see yields start going lower on intermediate-term, fixed-income securities before the Fed actually cuts rates. In the same way Treasury yields increased when the Fed raised rates, it will take Treasury and other bond yields lower when they cut interest rates. That being said, I still see intermediate bonds outperforming cash and CDs during the next 12 months.

I’m keeping the accounts I manage neutral to stocks and fixed income, with a slight overweight to fixed income by reducing my cash position. This is because the risk-reward trade-off between stocks and bonds looks balanced to me.

While we wait for the Fed to cut rates, I prefer large caps over small cap stocks and developed international equities over emerging markets. Unless a person has a short-term income need, they might be better off reducing their excess cash position and by going with a little longer duration on their fixed income holdings to lock in these higher yields for longer.

I think this will be the Fed’s last hike, but the economy has continued to exceed expectations. If the economy doesn’t slow down, there is a chance the Fed will raise rates one more time in September.

I was going 40 miles per hour when I saw the blue homemade speed limit sign. The homeowner drew a black cat on the back of the sign and said, “Cat Crossing.”

I appreciate their effort, and I will slow down some on that street just like the economy will probably keep slowing down too. I haven’t been superstitious since high school baseball, but no one wants a black cat crossing in front of them.

Have a blessed week.

Fervent Wealth Management is a financial management and services entity in Springfield, Mo. Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a registered investment advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.

Opinions are for general information only and not intended as specific advice or recommendations. All performance cited is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and can’t be invested in directly.

The economic forecast outlined in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

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