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Powell Won’t Break S&P 500 Rally; Wage Growth Eases


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If markets are right, tomorrow’s Fed meeting policy statement will announce the next-to-last rate hike of the cycle, with a quarter-point move that’s expected to be matched on March 22. However, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell probably has other ideas. That’s why the S&P 500 backed off from a six-week high on Monday, but markets firmed up early Tuesday after the Employment Cost Index showed softer wage growth in Q4.


Powell may make a case as to why interest rates may need to go a bit higher and stay there for longer than investors are betting. Even so, Wall Street doubled-down on its belief that rate hikes are about to end. In fact, odds for a quarter-point hike in March fell from 98% on Monday to 82.5% today, according to CME Group’s FedWatch page.

While markets could turn out to be right, this week’s Fed meting is all about the Fed keeping options open. Powell has zero interest in providing fodder for the S&P 500 to move higher and Treasury yields to move lower.

The big tell will be how Powell characterizes the balance of risks. If he says that they’re now…

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