Stock market action curious before Fed Reserve afternoon move

As I wrote Tuesday I believe the Fed will raise the Fed Fund Rate this afternoon to 2.5%.

However my spidey senses were piqued yesterday afternoon when the Dow soared more than 180 points around 3:30 pm on little or no news. The futures market this morning are pointing to a 220 point positive opening.

Is this just the market reacting to backed-in news? Or was there a rumor that since the Fed chief Jay Powell has taken all of  the wind from the stock asset bubble, the central bank will stand pat this afternoon?

It would take a lot of jawboning in the press conference afterward to calm a very surprised market not to sell off in panic wondering what the Fed knows that led them to not raise rates.

Of course the narrative would also say that Powell was trying to placate President Trump and his constant badgering of why the Fed can’t just step aside and see where the economy is 6 months from now before hiking again.

We’ll know the answer at 2:15 pm EST, but see where markets go this morning to see if they tip their hand.


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Fed chief Powell’s actions prodding Trump to change Fed’s structure

The Federal Reserve is believed to be raising rates on this coming Wednesday by a quarter point putting the Fed Funds Rate at 2.5%.

Fed chair Jay Powell, while saying the Fed is data dependent for future rate changes, seems to have walked back a bit his projected three raises in 2019.

However if the Fed is data dependent as Powell has said, the Dec. 19 decision should be to stand still if you are solely working off the dual mandate of the Fed to be guarding against inflation, while creating full employment.

The Fed’s biggest concern when it came to inflation was asset bubble inflation as in the stock market rise since President Trump’s election. If you look at wages, producer prices and consumer prices there is little in the pipeline suggesting that inflation will be above the targeted 2% annual growth that the Fed targets.

While Powell was Trump’s pick to lead the Fed after Janet Yellen stepped down, I believe Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was the driving force behind the pick and Trump knew little of Powell’s thoughts on economic and monetary policies.

The President’s tweets on Fed moves and speeches tells us that Powell & Co have a differing agenda than The White House when it comes to the economy.

Powell’s four rate hikes since March have certainly taken the wind out of the sails of stocks and house prices. These are the assets of the American people and Trump sees Powell as undermining his economic growth prospects for these people.

After a decade of near-zero rates, where Americans were battered by no interest on savings and low-to-nil wage gains, the Fed needs to get its foot off of the brakes and that is what the president is saying.

Only through growth — and that’s what the tax cut was meant to spur — can the US move forward on reducing its $21 trillion debt level. If you give a tax cut and then cut the economy at its knees with tightening credit, then you set yourself up for a deflation/stagflation scenario that could arrive closer to the 2020 election cycle.

This is not lost on President Trump. And this is why we are hearing about structural change coming to the Federal Reserve in 2019.


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Stock market gyrations, Google’s China fire

What is going on in the stock market?

The volatility and price swings of shares just does not ring true to this veteran market watcher. The year-end market moves this year defy logic. As many economic reports — while always questionable, but the only barometer used by the Street — show things are still better than the numbers from the Obama era economic malaise, they seem to fall on deaf ears.

This type of volatility has to be coming from institutional investors since the gyrations are so violent and sudden. I don’t think the incoming Democratic-controlled House is the root, since markets prefer divided government as they’re less likely to get any meaningful regulations through Congress.

Fed chairman Jay Powell needs to step aside and let his previous rate hike work through the economy and see where we stand in six months. Since there are words to that effect the Fed will more likely raise rates next week and that is baked into the market, but the language in the press conference will have greater impact.

One theory I believe is that the black box computer trading programs may have reach a critical level where the algorithms control far more shares than human decision makers, which gives you markets swing back and forth with more than 500 points in less than an hour on very little news.

Many market pros have their own interpretations, which are rooted in the past, but I think this market is being honed to towards more non-traditional sources of “news”. While veteran market makers would here rumors that could create price swings but there was discretion. Now these algorithms may take “rumors” or fake news with more seriously without discernment.


Does anyone else find it odd that hours after Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on a host of issues including the search giant developing a censored product for China a fire develops in its offices there.

Breaking: Fire breaks out in Raycom Info Tech Park, which houses Google’s office, in the Zhongguancun technology hub in Beijing, China.

https://twitter.com/PMBreakingNews/status/1072705722746585088📁

Was the order given to cover tracks on the program called Dragonfly, which was a government-approved search engine for the Chinese market, which is heavily censored by Google for access to the market.

On Tuesday Pichai was questioned numerous times during his testimony of censored search. Each time he answered with a variation of “We have no plans at this time to launch in China.”

Perhaps that comment is now true since the fire has pushed back the launch of any product.