Weekly Market Commentary

The Fed Voted to Hold Interest Rates Steady

Posted on December 18, 2023

Larson Market Commentary

The markets felt evergreen last week as all five indices closed higher. For the S&P 500, this was the seventh consecutive week of gains since the end of October.

While Monday and Tuesday both closed higher, it was Wednesday’s activity that stood out last week. Wednesday was accentuated by the results from the December FOMC Meeting.

Major Markets

YTD as of 12/15/2023  
  Dow Jones Industrial  
  S&P 500  
  MSCI World  
  Russell 2000  
  Bar US Agg Bnd  

S&P Sectors

  YTD as of 12/15/2023
  Comm. Services  
  Cons. Discretionary  
  Cons. Staples  
  Health Care  
  Info. Technology  
  Real Estate  
    Agent/Broker Dealer Use Only  

The Fed voted to hold interest rates steady at 525 – 550 basis points.

However, it was the comments that came after the meeting that caught the markets’ attention.

After months of market participants wondering when and how the Fed would begin to change course on their interest rate policy, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell began to take on an accommodating tone. In his post meeting comments, he said:

“We are seeing strong growth that appears to be moderating. We’re seeing a labor market that is coming back into balance by so many measures, and we’re seeing inflation making real progress. These are the things we’ve been wanting to see. We can’t know—we still have a ways to go. No one is declaring victory. That would be premature, and we can’t be guaranteed of this progress. So, we’re moving carefully in making that assessment of whether we need to do more or not. And that’s really the question that we’re on, but of course, the other question, the question of when will it become appropriate to begin dialing back the amount of policy restraint in place, that begins to come into view, and is clearly a topic of discussion out in the world and also a discussion for us at our meeting today.”

For context, just two weeks earlier, Powell said,

“It would be premature to conclude with confidence that we have achieved a sufficiently restrictive stance, or to speculate on when policy might ease. We are prepared to tighten policy further if it becomes appropriate to do so.”

While there was still a lot of hedging in his statement on Wednesday, Powell’s comments stood as a marked shift in tone. This caused Treasury rates to drop significantly lower with the intermediate and longer end of the yield curve falling over 30 basis points to align with the yield at the end of 2022. Moreover, the CME Group’s Fed Watch Tool saw the probability of future rate increases fall off the board with the greatest likelihood of an initial rate cut taking place in March of next year.

This gave quite the gift to both the equity and bond markets. The Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond index popped over two percentage points, nearly doubling the year-to-date performance in a week.

This will be the final market commentary video for the year. We would like to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



Time for a financial checkup?
Click “Schedule a Consult” and get in touch today.

The S&P 500® Index is a capitalization index of 500 stock-designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of stock representing all major industries. https://us.spindices.com/indices/equity/sp-500

The Dow Jones Industrial Average® (The Dow®), is a price-weighted measure of 30 U.S. blue-chip companies. The index covers all industries except transportation and utilities. https://us.spindices.com/indices/equity/dow-jones-industrial-average

The NASDAQ Composite Index measures all NASDAQ domestic and international based common type stocks listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market. Today the NASDAQ Composite includes over 2,500 companies, more than most other stock market indexes. Because it is so broad-based, the Composite is one of the most widely followed and quoted major market indexes. https://indexes.nasdaqomx.com/Index/Overview/COMP

The MSCI World Index, which is part of The Modern Index Strategy, is a broad global equity benchmark that represents large and mid-cap equity performance across 23 developed markets countries. It covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country and MSCI World benchmark does not offer exposure to emerging markets.

The MSCI Emerging Markets (EM) Index is designed to represent the performance of large- and mid-cap securities in 24 Emerging Markets countries of the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. As of December 2017, it had more than 830 constituents and covered approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalization in each country. https://www.msci.com/

The S&P GSCI Crude Oil index provides investors with a reliable and publicly available benchmark for investment performance in the crude oil market. https://us.spindices.com/indices

Companies in the S&P 500 Sector Indices are classified based on the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS®). https://us.spindices.com/indices

Share this Post...