Market Snapshot: The 2023 stock market rally looks wobbly. What’s next as investors prepare for longer inflation fight.

by | Feb 26, 2023 | Stock Market

The stock market is ending February on a decidedly wobbly note, raising doubts about the durability of an early 2023 rally. Blame stronger-than-expected economic data and hotter-than-expected inflation readings that have forced investors to again rethink their expectations around how high the Federal Reserve will drive interest rates.

“The idea that equity markets would experience a strong upside surge while the Fed was still hiking and the market was underestimating what Fed was going to do” had looked “untenable,” said Lauren Goodwin, economist and portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments, in a phone interview. Market participants have come round to the Fed’s way of thinking. At the end of January, fed-funds futures reflected expectations the Fed’s benchmark interest rate would peak below 5% despite the central bank’s own forecast for a peak in the 5% to 5.25% range. Moreover, the market was forecasting the Fed would deliver more than one cut by year-end. That view began to shift after the release of a January jobs report on Feb. 3 that showed the U.S. economy added a much larger-than-expected 517,000 jobs and showed a drop in the unemployment rate to 3.4% — its lowest since 1969. Throw in hotter-than-expected January consumer and producer price index readings and Friday’s bounce in the core personal consumption expenditures price index, the Fed’s …

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