The Fed Dashed Hopes for March Rate Cuts. What Now?

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Investors were really hoping that the U.S. Federal Reserve would cut interest rates in March. But today, Fed Board Chair Jerome Powell let some air out of the tires when he announced the central bank will likely not cut rates that soon. In response, stocks were crushed. 

But the bigger picture here is far more important than investors’ reaction.

The Fed confirmed two important things today:

  1. Multiple rate cuts are likely coming in 2024. 
  2. Those rate cuts likely won’t start in March. 

Of course, the second point is a short-term negative for stocks. Before Powell’s press conference, traders were pricing in ~60% odds of a March rate cut. Now the market has to price out that rate cut. And in response, stocks will suffer in the short term. 

But that will all play out in a few days. The market will reprice odds of a March rate cut down to 30% or lower. Stock valuations should slightly reset. 

And then, we think the market will rally.

Fed Letdown Should Preempt a Comeback Rally

In truth, the long-term trajectory of interest rates in 2024 matters far more than whether or not the Fed cuts rates in March. 

Frankly, as an investor, I find it pretty irrelevant when the Fed starts cutting rates. What matters most is that multiple rate cuts do happen this year.

And the central bank has confirmed that outcome.

The Fed dramatically changed its post-meeting statement today – the most sweeping changes we’ve seen in two years. It removed all talk about more rate hikes and included new commentary about potential rate cuts. 

And importantly, we thought that in the post-meeting press conference, Powell sounded like he wants to cut interest rates. He said as much multiple times, mentioning that once the Fed is more convinced that inflation is retreating back to 2%, it will reduce the policy rate.

The point being: Rate cuts are on the way in 2024. 

And that is what matters most for long-term investors.

The Final Word on the Fed Update

So long as rates go lower and earnings go higher this year – both of which seem very likely now – then stocks should rally. 

Of course, that means that today’s post-Fed stock crash is little more than a buying opportunity… 

Just like every other stock market selloff of the past 16 months. 

We’re in a buy-all-dips market. But if you want to make the most money possible, you need to strategically buy the dips in the right stocks at the right time. Selectivity is everything. 

Find out what we’re buying on this most recent market dip.

On the date of publication, Luke Lango did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.

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