Fed Raises Rates Again: Impact on Inflation and Stock Prices

Investors are expecting the Federal Reserve (the “Fed”) to raise interest rates again when it meets this month and again in May. This has been further supported by some of the Fed officials who have said in recent days that they believe rates need to move higher. Futures traders are predicting that the benchmark will rise above 5.25% by late summer.[0]

Before Friday’s jobs report, Fed Chairman Jay Powell will be appearing before Congress to present the central bank’s semi-annual monetary policy report.[1] On Tuesday, he will be giving testimony to the Senate, and on Wednesday, he will be testifying to the House of Representatives.[2] It is expected that Mr. Powell will preview what’s to come for the March FOMC meeting, but it is unlikely that there will be more than a 25-basis point rate hike.[1] However, he could indicate that rates may need to go higher than what was thought at the December FOMC meeting.[1]

Inflation is a major concern for the Fed and investors alike. The February U.S. employment report will be closely watched, with expectations of 200,000 additional jobs.[2] This would moderate from January’s growth of 517,000, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at a more than five-decade low of 3.4%.[2]

Low jobless claims in recent weeks, coupled with a sturdy rebound in the ISM services’ employment index, suggest labor market data could handily exceed consensus estimates.[3] In the coming weeks, stocks should be watched closely to monitor the impact of the Fed’s interest rate decisions. The central bank’s actions could have a significant impact on inflation expectations, which could in turn affect stock prices.

0. “Services PMI, Fed speakers, Hibbett earnings: 3 things to watch By Investing.com” Investing.com, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.investing.com/news/stock-market-news/services-pmi-fed-speakers-hibbett-earnings-3-things-to-watch-3020879

1. “7 Stock Market Predictions – The Week of March 6, 2023 Edition” Monster Stock Market Commentary, 5 Mar. 2023, https://mottcapitalmanagement.com/7-stock-market-predictions-the-week-of-march-6-2023-edition

2. “Top 5 things to watch in markets in the week ahead By Investing.com” Investing.com, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.investing.com/news/economy/top-5-things-to-watch-in-markets-in-the-week-ahead-3022265

3. “S&P 500, Nasdaq 100 Forecast: Speculative Frenzy at Risk ahead of Key US Jobs Report” DailyFX, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.dailyfx.com/news/spx-ndx-sp-500-nasdaq-100-forecast-speculative-frenzy-at-risk-ahead-of-key-us-jobs-report-20230303.html