Stock Market Today
Futures in the United States and Europe are down today as stock traders are looking forward to a volatile week in anticipation of the highly awaited inflation reading to be released by the Labor Department on Thursday. Inflation is expected to continue on its rising trajectory, prompting the Federal Reserve to take action and maybe raise the number of interest rate hikes to be executed this year. The strength seen in the labour market supports this notion and conveys that the American economy is in good shape to withstand a faster tapering and operate without additional support from government authorities. However, investors should keep in mind that any significant losses are likely to be capped by robust earnings being attained by corporations.
In Monday’s session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained unchanged, while the S&P 500 index dropped 0.37%. The Nasdaq, the tech-savvy index, fell 0.58%, while the Russell 2000 rose 0.51%.
Investors are likely to remain worried and may stir up volatility in stock markets in the coming days as they struggle to make sense of how the Federal Reserve will react to the inflation data on Thursday. The American central bank has already hinted that it is likely going to start an interest rate lift-off next month, but the number of interest rate hikes to be held in 2022 and the amount they are going to be raised is still a mystery. The Bank of America added its two cents to the debate on Monday, stating that the Fed could likely raise interest rates by 0.25%, seven times in 2022.
Stocks of technology companies are being beaten down by forecasts of higher interest rates in the coming months. This can be clearly seen from the price action of prominent technology companies and the Nasdaq index over the past few weeks. Following its mediocre earnings report and cautious earnings guidance for this year, Meta, the newly founded parent company of Facebook, is already down 28% in February. Similarly, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, fell nearly 2.90%, and Netflix dropped nearly 2% in Monday’s session.
The Nasdaq index is bleeding because, when interest rates rise, the stock prices of technology companies fall because their valuations are based primarily on high growth factors and massive future cash flows. This is because when interest rates climb, the present value of the companies’ future cash flows falls, causing their stocks to become overvalued. When stocks are considered to be overvalued, investors begin selling these companies’ stocks, causing their stock prices to fall.
Monday was a good day for cryptocurrency enthusiasts, as Bitcoin, the industry standard broke through its 50-day moving average for the first time in nearly two months. The 50-day moving average is currently near $42,810, while Bitcoin is trading near $44,000. The $40,000 level is widely regarded as an important psychological level for the infamous digital coin, and the fact that it has maintained itself above this key level in recent days is itself a bullish sign. The next level of resistance to watch for is the range between $46,000 and $47,000. One of the reasons for the optimism in crypto markets could be the rise in broader equity markets, which rose following the release of a positive jobs report last week and Amazon’s strong earnings.
Crude oil prices dipped yesterday following signs that the United States and Iran are making progress and are approaching an agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. On Friday, the Biden administration reactivated the waivers on Iranian sanctions. If sanctions against Iran are lifted, the global crude oil supply may receive much-needed support, as Iran is a rich oil state, and an increase in oil supply may cause prices to fall from current highs. Oil prices have hopped nearly 20% in 2022 alone, and leading financial institutions are predicting a price tag of $100 per barrel is imminent.
Gold prices climbed to a more than one-week high on Monday, supported by inflation worries and lingering geopolitical risks, as markets awaited key U.S. inflation data for cues on the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike trajectory. Moreover, rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine are also helping the price of the yellow metal move higher.
Having said that, gold prices are likely to dip in the long term despite the rise in consumer prices because a rise in inflation will force the Fed to speed up its tapering process and raise its interest rates at a higher pace. When interest rates rise, the opportunity cost of holding the non-interest-bearing precious metal also rises, eventually pounding its price down.
The euro depreciated after the President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde, stated that she sees no reason why the ECB should tighten its monetary policy as she expects inflation in the region to cool down and stabilize near 2%, which is the ECB’s target. On the other hand, the US dollar rose after the jobs report, which was released last week, performed better than expected, convincing investors that rapid interest rate hikes are a real possibility. The American inflation reading, which will be released on Thursday, will most likely have an impact on the U.S. dollar in the coming days.
Asian Pacific Markets
American Pacific markets are also mixed today as investors await the American inflation report. As of 12.52 a.m. EST, the Nikkei jumped 0.27%, and the Shanghai index dipped 0.90%. The Hang Seng index, in Hong Kong, fell 1.54%. The ASX 200 index hopped 1.11%, and the Seoul Kospi rose 0.74%.