Stock markets are steadying ahead of Powell’s second appearance of the week, after his comments a day earlier saw them go into retreat.
The Fed Chair didn’t hold back on his assessment of interest rates, signaling that the Fed will be willing to keep pushing rates higher if the totality of the data continues to necessitate it. I’ll be honest, I think he’s chosen his words wisely there. Even if he did produce a more hawkish performance than I anticipated, but the message was clear.
While markets didn’t respond well to the comments, the damage in equities wasn’t too severe, and the more serious signals are still being seen elsewhere. There is still room for more pain in stock markets if the Fed follows through on its warnings.
US yields have now adjusted to the point that the 10-2 Year Treasury Yield Spread inversion in Treasuries topped 1%, the highest since the early ’80s. That looks like a strong recession signal at a time when the Fed is still hiking every meeting, and markets are pricing in a strong likelihood of acceleration again in a couple of weeks.
But, as Powell said, it’s about the totality of the data. The January figures alone were far from ideal, but we’ll get a broader picture of how the US has started 2023 over the next couple of weeks – before the central bank next meets – starting with the jobs report on Friday. Suddenly the importance of that has just increased once more.
Showing strong resilience once more?
Bitcoin wasn’t immune to yesterday’s hit although interestingly, it has continued to hold around $22,000 where it saw support on Friday. Perhaps it’s just similar to gold in that regard but we have seen on plenty of occasions this year that bitcoin has shown unexpected resilience. That could be put to the test once more with the area around $21,500 suddenly looking like a major support zone.