Federal Reserve moves over the next two days could easily lift stocks higher, strategists at J.P. Morgan Asset Management say.
A two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting gets underway today and is expected to reveal some insight on whether the Fed will raise interest rates. Morgan analysts Dubravko Lakos-Bujas and his team say they see a very different backdrop during this meeting than they did last December.
“Last December’s hawkish FOMC release came after a sustained market rally coupled with remarkably low volatility,” the analysts wrote in a note. “In contrast, the upcoming FOMC meeting is preceded by a market crash, elevated volatility, rising negative sentiment around trade, while [the] consensus view of the Fed remains hawkish (i.e., FOMC dots to be revised higher).”
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So, Morgan strategists say that any dovish move by the Fed would “set up a rather low bar for equities to advance” given the market backdrop. (See also: TD Ameritrade: Investors Should Have More Clarity After Fed Meets.)
After the FOMC meeting ends tomorrow, Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell will host a one-hour news conference, and many expect him to underscore that rate hikes will remain gradual.
The Morgan strategists said last month that, in general this year, it expects the Fed to be slightly more hawkish with three to four interest rates hikes as it reduces its balance sheet. Two key metrics the Fed is watching are unemployment, which is at low levels, and inflation, which is approaching 2%. (See also: Treasury Moves Lower Ahead of FOMC Meeting.)