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What will the Federal Reserve do?
Greg Womack -- Oklahoma Financial Adviser Greg Womack -- Oklahoma Financial Adviser
Oklahoma City, OK
Tuesday, May 7, 2024


Uncertainty about the direction and timing of Fed rate cuts is causing stock markets in the United States to charge and retreat. U.S. stocks rallied for five consecutive months (anticipating rate cuts early in 2024) before retreating in April after higher-than-anticipated inflation suggested the Fed might delay any rate reductions.

Markets retreated early last week on concerns the Fed might take a more hawkish tone following the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting – but it did not. Following the meeting, the FOMC release stated:

"Recent indicators suggest that economic activity has continued to expand at a solid pace. Job gains have remained strong, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation has eased over the past year but remains elevated. In recent months, there has been a lack of further progress toward the Committee's 2 percent inflation objective…The Committee does not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent."

While the Fed left its rate policy unchanged, it eased a bit using a different policy lever. "…[FOMC] policymakers gave a green light to slowing the pace at which the Fed is shrinking its Treasury holdings, which may modestly work against the rise in market interest rates," reported Jed Graham of Investor's Business Daily.

Markets found the Fed's moderate tone encouraging, and optimism expanded after the U.S. employment report suggested the labor market might be cooling off.

"The indexes bounced back from early-week lows after the employment report revealed that the U.S. added fewer jobs than expected in April—but enough to indicate a still-growing economy. For now, that could help keep a lid on inflation, prevent the Federal Reserve from needing to raise rates again, and maybe even allow it to cut them," reported Jacob Sonenshine of Barron's.

Major U.S. stock indices finished the week higher, according to Barron's. The U.S. Treasury market rallied, too. Yields on longer maturities of U.S. Treasuries moved lower over the week.

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Greg Womack

1366 E. 15th Street

Edmond, OK 73013

Phone: (405) 340-1717


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