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Wall Street Shrugs Off Hawkish Fed En Route to New Highs

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U.S. stocks eked out new highs on Thursday as investors digested Fed Day without losing their appetite for risk.

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Wall Street Record Streak Continues

Equities rallied at the tail end of a largely uneventful day in the market. The large-cap S&P 500 Index gained 0.1% to close at 2,508.24, its fourth consecutive all-time high. Seven of 11 sectors registered gains, led by energy, industrials and financials stocks. On the opposite side of the ledger, consumer discretionary and utilities stocks were the biggest laggards.

The benchmark’s gains have really narrowed recently, with the most recent four-day run tacking on a mere 13 points.

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Blue-chip stocks also contributed to the rally on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average registering its seventh straight record-breaking rally and ninth daily increase overall. The Dow 30 climbed 0.2% to close at 22,412.59.

Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index pared its losses all the way down to 0.1%. It settled at 6,456.04.

Volatility Drops

Wall Street’s favorite measure of implied volatility dropped below 10 on Wednesday, reaching its lowest since July 26. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) Volatility Index fell 3.9% to 9.78. The so-called “fear index” trades on a scale of 1-100, where 20 represents the historic mean.

The VIX normally trades inversely with the S&P 500. A low Vol reading is normally associated with bullish conditions for U.S. equities.

Volatility has spiked on several occasions throughout the year, as markets responded to geopolitical unrest. Underlying volatility is down more than 30% since Jan. 1.

The Great Unwind

The Federal Reserve surprised no-one Wednesday when it kept interest rates at 1.25%. Officials also played to expectations by announcing October as the start of the ‘great unwind’.

That of course refers to the scaling down of the Fed’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet. Asset reduction has been in the cards for some time, as officials look to normalize rein in monetary easing.

The Fed indicated it would start to shrink its balance sheet by $10 billion a month. At this pace, it will take at least two years for the balance sheet to be cut in half.

Fed officials also maintained their outlook for one more interest rate increase in calendar 2017. This was seen by some analysts as a vote of confidence for an economy that has looked lackluster for long stretches of the year.

U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) accelerated 3% annually in the second quarter. A repeat of that performance will be difficult in Q3 in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Asian Markets Mixed Following Fed

Asian stocks on Thursday were mixed through the midday, as investors awaited the fallout from the Bank of Japan meeting. The Japanese Nikkei rose 0.8% before noon Tokyo time, extending its one-month gain to 5.6%.

Chinese markets were mixed, with the CSI 300 Index edging up slightly. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged lower through midday trading.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 164 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Analysis

Daily Analysis: Oil Extends Rally as Nasdaq Leads Stocks Higher

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Friday Market Recap

Asset Current Value Daily Change
S&P 500 2749 1.38%
DAX 12,483 0.18%
WTI Crude Oil 63.58 1.29%
GOLD 1330.00 -0.16%
Bitcoin 10,14 -0.09%
EUR/USD 1.2295 -0.28%

US equities built up some bullish momentum towards the end of the week, ignoring the technical damage that the volatility-crash caused, and the major US indices rallied into the close today, squeezing the shorts. The Nasdaq, which led the rally as we expected, took out the key 6850 level in late trading and added another percent to, incredibly enough, finish only a hundred point of the all-time high.

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NASDAQ 100 Futures, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Should the tech benchmark retest the high next week, it will be amid very strong negative divergences, but hey, those divergences have been building for months now. The rally in equities was boosted by the dip in Treasury yields, especially at the long end of the curve, while Amazon continued ot lead the charge, closing right at the historic $1500 per share level.

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Russell 2000 (Small Cap) Index, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The advance in the Dow and the S&P 500 is much less convincing and with small caps also lagging the tech-behemoth juggernaut, we remain skeptical regarding the sustainability of the move. That said, if the broader indices stay above the key levels, we will be trading the long side in equities, even as from an investment standpoint, valuations are still way above acceptable.

Forex Markets and Commodities

The lackluster performance of European and Asian stocks adds to the negative divergences, especially as the Euro stopped appreciating against the Greenback, and that should be helping stocks of the old continent. Of course, the DAX and the EuroStoxx 50 could play catch-up next week, barring another surge in the common currency.

EUR/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The most-traded forex pair remains in a short-term downtrend, as it failed to recapture the previously broken rising trendline, and the commodity related risk-on currencies also remained under pressure. The Canadian Dollar did bounce back off yesterday’s 8-week lows, boosted by the much hihger than expected inflation release and the jump in the price of crude oil.

USD/CAD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Oil benefited from the positive shift in sentiment, while the Syrian situation, which took a backseat in the headlines, still supports the rally. The Japanese Yen and gold were stable amid the risk-rally and that adds to our suspicions regarding the upside potential form these levels.

Cryptocurrencies

The segment started out the day with a strong bounce that carried the major coins higher by around 10%, but given the recent steep short-term pullback, even that wasn’t enough to turn the tide, and the day ended with an (almost usual) sell-off after the US close. Despite the recent volatility, the overall picture is still encouraging, with most of the majors being safely above the crash lows, likely in a new bullish cycle that has the potential to last for several more weeks or even months.

While new all-time highs are it guaranteed following the 60-70% declines among the largest coins, but even without those, plenty of upside potential is left for investors. With that in mind, investors should hold on to their coins and even add to their holdings on the short-term dips like the current one.

ETH/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

Featured image from Shutterstock

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 113 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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Market Overview

Bitcoin is Clear

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It’s not often that drama from reality television influences the stock markets but I suppose it’s one of the hallmarks of the new world we live in.

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For those of you who haven’t heard yet. Kylie Jenner sent out this tweet…

…and SNAP stocks did this…

The follow-up apology didn’t seem to help much though.


Love or no love, it’s pretty clear that investors are following these personalities fairly closely and taking notes.

@MatiGreenspan
eToro, Senior Market Analyst

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Today’s Highlights

  • More Market Funk
  • Bitcoin is Clear
  • CME Bitcoin Expiration

Please note: All data, figures & graphs are valid as of February 23rd. All trading carries risk. Only risk capital you can afford to lose.

Traditional Markets

The market funk continues. All the indicators are totally sensational and correlations are way-out.

The Dow Jones went up and the Nasdaq was down. This morning the Asians did great but Europe is starting out weird.

Things are just kind of all over the place. There weren’t really any progressions in Volatility or the 10 Year Yield. Both kind of just coasted through Thursday.

But hey, today is Friday. So we could get some action going into the weekend. Especially with some heavy fed activity planned for this evening.

Of course, the only FOMC member traders really want to hear from at the moment is the newly appointed Jerome Powell, who will be giving his first interest rate announcement on March 21st.

Bitcoin in the Clear

The community celebrated yesterday as the bitcoin mempool was cleared for the first time in months.

Here we can see that during the peak of the FOMO from December 8th util January 21st, the bitcoin network was backlogged with more than 100,000 unconfirmed transactions at any time.

This comes as the adoption of both Segwit and the Bitcoin Lightening Network have been dramatically increased.

In short, the scaling issue that we’ve spoken about often in the last few months may finally have a solution. Of course, we’ll only know for sure once we give it a real test.

For now, transactions rates are at the lowest point since at least May of 2016, with an average of only 2.14 transactions per second (TPS) over the last 7 days.

It should be noted however that adoption of the Lightning Network will actually reduce the TPS rates since Lightening transactions happen off of Bitcoin’s main chain.

Rather than adding each transaction to the main blockchain, trusted parties are able to transact freely with each other. They then send an aggregate summary of their transactions onto the main blockchain so that the rest of the network can update the final results.

Either way, it’s clear for now that there’s simply less activity on Bitcoin since the pullback. This can be confirmed by Google Trends which shows that interest in the world’s largest digital currency is now as low as it was in early November, which at the time was an all-time high.

Futures

Another thing to bear in mind is that the CME February Bitcoin futures contracts will expire today. Any positions that are not rolled over to the March contracts will need to be settled in cash on the Gemini exchange.

It should be noted that Wall Street is still taking it very slowly with bitcoin, and so far only 5,840 BTC have been traded on the February CME contracts.

Some people have pointed out that the price of bitcoin tends to dip around the time of the contract expirations, but I still haven’t seen enough evidence to support this theory.

For now, my tinfoil hat is still in the closet. Will let you know once I take it out. 😉

Have an amazing weekend!!

This content is provided for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be investment advice or recommendation. The outlook presented is a personal opinion of the analyst and does not represent an official position of eToro. Past performance is not an indication of future results. All trading involves risk; only risk capital you are prepared to lose. Cryptocurrencies can widely fluctuate in prices and are not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 34 rated postsSenior Market Analyst at Etoro.com.




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Analysis

Pre-Market: Stocks Refuse to Fall Even as China Takes Over Key Insurer

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Although it should have been a very quiet week in China, thanks to the New Year celebrations, the recent surge in volatility and the plunge in equities didn’t pass without consequences in the key market. Just shortly after effectively shutting down the Chinese version of the Volatility Index (VIX) (presumably to calm the markets…), one of the main actors of the monstrous financial web, Anbang, of the country had to be taken over to avoid a systemic event and stop the “creative” financial engineering that involved criminal activity (the shadow of 2008).

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China will likely need many more duck-tapes like this one if it wants to stop the largest credit bubble in human history to collapse, but for now, the solution could work. Equity futures edged higher since yesterday’s volatile close, and as the major US indices are holding up well, not far off last Friday’s highs, our bearish short-term view might have to be revised.

Nasdaq 100 Futures, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

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As we discussed before, the long-term uptrend is intact, and we expect at least a re-test of the highs even if we are in a large-scale top formation, but we thought that the technical damage caused by the crash three weeks ago would require more healing.

We are not turning bullish just yet, but today’s session could finally decide if we the BTFD-crowd is strong enough to turn the tide after the choppy drift lower this week. We are still focusing on the Nasdaq, as the broader market seems to be following the lead of the tech benchmark, and a move 6850 (in the Nasdaq 100 futures, and still the 2735 level in the S&P) would be a very positive sign for bulls.

DAX Index, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The German DAX index is also showing some tentative short-term relative strength although it remains almost 10% below its all-time high, and it remains a strong negative divergence to be monitored.

Forex Markets Quiet

EUR/USD, 4-Hour Chart Analysis

The main pairs are trading in a choppy narrow range today after the strong move in the Yen and the drop in the USD yesterday. US Treasury Yields are edging lower today, helping the calm in equities and currencies, but on a bearish note, commodity currencies failed to rebound so far, and they were providing good signals since the crash. Day-traders should note that the Canadian Dollar will likely be very active again, with the Canadian CPI report coming out pre-market.

To sum the outlook up, we are still leaning on the risk-off side here regarding the short-term outlook, but we wouldn’t bet the farm on that, as there are mixed signals before the weekend.

Featured image from Shutterstock

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.7 stars on average, based on 113 rated postsTrader and financial analyst, with 10 years of experience in the field. An expert in technical analysis and risk management, but also an avid practitioner of value investment and passive strategies, with a passion towards anything that is connected to the market.




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