Mar 22, 2023
Investors Turn More Bearish on Stocks After Fed, Survey Shows
(Bloomberg) -- Investors are convinced the Federal Reserve will hike again this year and won’t pivot to monetary easing until 2024 — an outlook they see as bearish for stocks.
That’s the dominant view of about 350 respondents to an Instant MLIV Pulse survey in the hours following the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday.
The findings contrast with interest-rate swap markets, which remain eager to price in cuts this year. Poll respondents say what the Fed did and said on Wednesday has left them more pessimistic about the outlook for equities.
More than 70% of MLIV Pulse respondents said the Fed isn’t done with tightening policy yet. More than half said they expect the central bank to wait until next year for any monetary easing.
The results of the survey align with the views of Fed officials, but they push back on traders who amped up bets on rate cuts for this year — sending Treasury yields sliding — even after Wednesday’s hike and Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s subsequent comments.
Read More: Powell Stresses Commitment to Cooling Prices as Fed Hikes Rates
Powell’s focus on the need to keep fighting inflation matched how MLIV survey respondents saw the balance of risks. Some 39% said inflation remains the biggest danger.
“Rate cuts are not in our base case,” the Fed chief told reporters Wednesday, referring to the outlook for the rest of 2023.
Swaps markets were pricing the Fed’s benchmark to peak around 4.95% in May, and then fall to about 4.2% in December — a very different trajectory from the one outlined by Powell and depicted in the Fed’s projections.
Stocks swooned during the US afternoon, with the S&P 500 index closing down 1.7%, as the Fed’s announcements doubled up with comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — who told lawmakers that the government isn’t considering “blanket” insurance for bank deposits. Global bank stocks, and US financials in particular, may come under further pressure after Yellen’s comments.
Read More: Traders Bet on 2023 Fed Cuts That Aren’t Powell’s ‘Base Case’
Also running against trading trends in the post-Fed hours, some 53% of respondents said they expected a flatter yield curve as a result of Wednesday’s central-bank decision.
The Instant MLIV Pulse survey was conducted among Bloomberg terminal users. For more markets analysis, see the MLIV Blog.
(Adds likely impact on bank shares in second last paragraph.)
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