Should You Worry About Interest Hikes?
Last week’s U.S. employment report was better than expected. The United States added 235,000 jobs in February, which was a few more than economists had forecast.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the positive economic data helped push U.S. stock markets lower. The jobs report was a sign the American economy continues to be strong and indicates a rate hike may be on the horizon. Barron’s reported:
“If anything, the data just confirms what we’ve known for a while now: The economy is growing, and one rate hike is unlikely to do much damage…There’s still a strong likelihood of some sort of economic stimulus plan from the Trump administration sometime this year…But the fact that tax cuts and infrastructure projects are even being considered at a time when the U.S. economy is adding 200,000-plus jobs a month is ‘unprecedented’…”
Federal Reserve (Fed) interest rate hikes affect stock markets because they make borrowing more expensive. Higher borrowing costs may reduce the amounts people and companies spend and affect companies’ profitability and share values.
At the end of last week, CME’s FedWatch Tool, which gauges the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, indicated there was better than an 88 percent chance of a rate hike when the Fed meets on March 15.
It’s interesting to note investor sentiment has become less optimistic. Last week, the AAII Investor Sentiment Survey showed investor pessimism had reached its highest level since February 2016. Bearish sentiment increased by almost 11 points, finishing at 46.5 percent. That’s significantly higher than the historic average of 30.5 percent. Bullish sentiment fell by almost eight points to 30 percent. That’s below the historic average of 38.5 percent. The AAII survey is often used as a contrarian indicator.
What does this mean to you? If you’re a long term investor, probably not much. You can learn more about my investment philosophy by reading my book, Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Making good decisions involves hard work. Important decisions are made in the face of great uncertainty, and often under time pressure. The world is a complex place: People and organizations respond to any decision, working together or against one another, in ways that defy comprehension. There are too many factors to consider. There is rarely an abundance of relevant, trusted data that bears directly on the matter at hand. Quite the contrary – there are plenty of partially relevant facts from disparate sources – some of which can be trusted, some not – pointing in different directions. With this backdrop, it is easy to see how one can fall into the trap of making the decision first and then finding the data to back it up later. It is so much faster. But faster is not the same as well-thought-out.”
–Thomas C. Redman, “the Data Doc”
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* “Should You Worry About Interest Hikes?”
http://www.barrons.com/articles/major-indexes-suffer-their-first-loss-in-weeks-1489210563?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/03-13-17_Barrons-Major_Indexes_Suffer_Their_First_Loss_in_Weeks-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://www.cmegroup.com/trading/interest-rates/countdown-to-fomc.html (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/03-13-17_CMEGroup-Countdown_to_FOMC-Footnote_3.pdf)
http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21716057-rural-republican-states-have-most-lose-farmers-and-texans-would-lose-most (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/03-13-17_TheEconomist-Farmers_and_Texans_Would_Lose_Most_from_Barriers_to_Trade_with_Mexico-Footnote_9.pdf)
https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/02/daily-chart-2 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/03-13-17_TheEconomist-Which_American_Producers_Would_Suffer_from_Ending_NAFTA-Footnote_10.pdf)