@theMarket: Bonds, Stocks Should Consolidate After Epic Run
This stock market rally lasted nine straight days. That was more than enough to trigger some profit-taking.
"Too far, too fast" is my interpretation of the nine-day continuous climb in the equity and bond markets. The rally that started early last week continued this week, although it was clear to me that it is showing some signs of faltering.
And as has happened throughout the year, the Magnificent Seven group of stocks was the focus of most of the buying but on less and less volume. Since they represent such a large part of the indexes, it was not hard to see that the indexes were supported by a handful of stocks. However, the remaining 493 stocks in the S&P 500 Index are rolling over, which they have done all year.
Bond yields, on the other hand, have stopped going down. Instead, the U.S. 10-year Treasury bond had been consolidating. That is until the bond auctions on Wednesday and Thursday. The 10-year bond auction was fair, but the 30-year sale on Thursday did not go well at all. It was the weakest auction in almost two years. There was little to no appetite for long-dated bonds after the large decline in yields last week. On Friday, yields, and with them the stock market, recovered a bit.
To be clear, I am not convinced that we have seen the peak in long-term interest rates. If I look out further than January, I know that next year the U.S. Treasury will need to auction even more bonds simply to finance the government's existing spending plans. Some bond analysts expect more than $2 trillion in fundraising will be on the docket. If so, that should push interest rates back up and yields higher than where they are now.
As for the Fed, right now the betting is that there will be no rate hike at the December FOMC meeting. Some now predicting a rate cut as early as June 2024. Those kinds of predictions usually crop up to justify why stocks can continue to climb higher. I don't put much faith in that, especially when not one Fed member has even discussed rate cuts in the coming year.
In a speech before members of the International Monetary Fund on Thursday, Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell said the Fed is 'not confident' it has done enough to bring inflation down. He warned that more work could be ahead in the battle against higher prices.
This statement was only a week after the FOMC meeting in which Powell's words were interpreted by the market as indicating the Fed was through raising rates. The moral of that tale is one usually hears what one wants to hear.
We are once again getting close to the deadline for a government shutdown. The Nov. 17 deadline is fast approaching and there is still no plan to keep the lights on in Washington. House Republicans are all over the map in what they want. Unfortunately, the new Speaker has yet to table any plan that would satisfy all his members.
What is worse, Senate Republicans are now also demanding stricter border policies as a condition for Ukraine aid. At this point, the best that can be hoped for is yet another continuing resolution that would stretch funding out for another month or two. If not, I would expect the financial markets to hit some turbulence.
Chair Powell's words, combined with the poor bond auction, all on the same day (Thursday, Nov. 9), had bulls rethinking the market direction in the days ahead. I am looking for a minor pullback in the averages here short-term. A decline of 30-50 points on the S&P 500 Index should about do it from here. Anything lower than say 4,300 would tell me that there is more trouble in paradise than I am expecting.