Stocks staged a huge comeback on Wednesday after the Federal Open Market Committee published its updated policy statement and the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen held a press conference.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 18,075.80 +226.72 (1.27%)
- S&P 500: 2,099.38 +25.10 (1.21%)
- Nasdaq: 4,982.83 +45.39 (0.92%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
- Patience is gone. Ahead of the FOMC statement, investors were watching whether its updated guidance on the path of interest rate hikes would remove the word “patient.” Here’s the key portion of the statement that changed: “Consistent with its previous statement, the Committee judges that an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate remains unlikely at the April FOMC meeting. The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labour market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 per cent objective over the medium term.”
- But Fed chair Janet Yellen said just because patience is gone does not mean the Fed will be impatient. In her press conference, she said lift-off would depend on what the economy looks like. “We need to watch the data continue to reformulate our forecasts… to where the economy is going,” she said. Yellen added that rates may not reach “normal” levels for a while even after they rise.
- According to the newest “dot plots,” the FOMC’s expectations for the path of rates over the next couple years have dropped, indicating a more dovish sentiment than at the end of last year. The new median dot for the end of 2016 is at 1.875%, down from 2.5% in the December statement. Meanwhile, the Fed’s latest Summary of Economic Projections shows that 15 of the FOMC’s 17 members see rates rising this year.
- Stocks reversed losses after the statement dropped and as Yellen spoke, with the Nasdaq climbing over 5,000 and the Dow crossing 18,000. Bonds also posted a huge rally, with the yield on the 10-year note dipping below 2% for the first time since 2008 to as low as 1.98%. The 2-year note’s yield plunged the most since 2011, according to Bloomberg. Gold also rallied, climbing by nearly 2% to around $US1169.90 an ounce. The dollar index fell nearly 2% to around 98.17.
- West Texas Intermediate crude oil also reversed losses and rocketed by up to 4% to around $US46.88 per barrel. Earlier, WTI slumped by as much as 2% after the Energy Information Administration inventories rose by 9.6 million barrels last week, from 4.5 million. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 3.8 million barrels. Inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma grew by 2.865 million to hit a record high.
- Starbucks announced a 2-for-1 stock split effective on April 8, and the stock will trade on a split-adjusted basis from April 9. It’s the sixth stock split since the company went public in 1992. As Business Insider’s Sam Ro reports, “All that happens is that one share of stock becomes two shares. The shareholder will continue to hold the same percentage stake in the company.” The company held its investor day today. “This split is a direct reflection of the past seven years of increasing shareholder value, enhancing the liquidity of our shares, and building an attractive share price,” CEO Howard Shulz said.
- Nintendo shares spiked again in trading. Shares rose by as much as 26% to around $US23.06 per share. On Tuesday, shares rallied after the company announced that it will start making games for smartphones and tablets.
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