Stock Market Today: As Investors Get Defensive About Rates and Risk, Stocks Drop and the Dollar Soars
Jan 17, 2024
The financial markets are in a state of flux, with significant changes evident in stocks, bond yields, and currency movements making the stock market today pretty unstable. Following Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller’s assertion that the Fed could afford patience before any rate hikes, stocks have experienced a slight decline. The S&P 500 has dipped by 0.2%, reflecting a loss of 10 points, while the Nasdaq has also lessened, dropping by 0.1% or 14 points.
The opening hour of trading saw the acceleration of pre market declines in stocks due to corresponding increases in three key macro components: the dollar, oil prices, and Treasury yields. The recent Red Sea attacks, including an assault on a U.S.-owned cargo ship, have contributed to Brent crude teetering around the $80 mark. These developments, coupled with hawkish rate warnings from European Central Bank (ECB) officials, have resulted in a decline in stocks, with the S&P 500 dropping 0.57% and the Dow Jones conceding 225 points from Friday’s close.
Treasury yields have risen in the bond market following an unexpected decrease in the New York Fed’s Empire State survey of business conditions. Interestingly, the survey also identified a considerable increase in the price-paid component despite a slump in new orders. In response to these findings, 10-year notes have increased by three basis points, trading at 4.026%, while 2-year notes remain at 4.205%.
In the world of technology, Tesla is making headlines with CEO Elon Musk’s recent comments suggesting a need for a larger stake in the company to fulfill his AI ambitions. Otherwise, Musk has indicated he might explore these projects outside of the Tesla structure. This resulted in Tesla shares becoming the most active in premarket trading.
Meanwhile, tensions in Europe and the Middle East have contributed to a volatile global situation. Hawkish comments from ECB officials at the World Economic Forum in Davos have led to the lowest levels of stocks in the region since mid-December. Concurrently, a series of attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on ships in the Red Sea has raised concerns of a potential wider regional conflict. These events, combined with increased safe-haven flows, have led to a rise in the U.S. dollar index, which now stands at a one-month high of 103.276.
Despite these market fluctuations, traders anticipate a 67% chance of a U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate cut in March, a significant increase from last week’s projections of 48.7%. Following this, the odds of another rate cut in May are pegged at 100%. Wall Street investors eagerly await further insight from Wall Street on these rate-cut forecasts.
Amid this, investors are also looking towards the next run of fourth-quarter earnings, with updates expected from Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley. Collective predictions indicate a 4.4% rise in fourth-quarter S&P 500 profits compared to the same period in 2022, before an anticipated 7% increase in the first three months of this year.However, considerable reductions in stock futures contracts tied to the S&P, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the tech-focused Nasdaq could imply a weaker open. In fact, the Nasdaq is bracing for a substantial 90-point decline, partly due to premarket decreases for tech titans Apple and Tesla. Globally, the stock market today is also faring poorly, with Europe’s Stoxx 600 down 0.61% in early Frankfurt trading and the Asian market witnessing considerable losses as well.