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After initially moving higher following the Fed’s 75 basis point interest rate hike, stocks sank on Thursday as market participants further digested the economic implications of an aggressive Federal Reserve amid decades-high inflation. The S&P 500 (SPY) fell -3.31%, erasing all gains from Wednesday, to hit the lowest level since December 2020. The Nasdaq (QQQ) plunged by more than -4%, bringing the index down by more than 30% for the year-to-date while the Dow sank by -2.4% to close below 30,000 for the first time since January 2021.
On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) Summary of Economic Projections showed the central bank’s view of the economy has significantly soured since it last gave projections in March 2022. The FOMC now anticipates the unemployment rate will come in at 3.7% by the end of this year (versus the 3.5% rate seen in March), and that real gross domestic product will rise just 1.7% (versus the 2.8% increase seen previously).
The Fed also increased its inflation forecast for the current year. As it stands, members of the Fed see core personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the Fed’s preferred gauge for inflation, rising by 4.3% in 2022. This is a revision higher from the 4.1% estimated in March 2022. For 2023, the Fed sees core PCE rising by 2.7% before slowing to 2.3% in 2024.
The lowered guidance is coupled with the Fed telegraphing a more aggressive path on interest rate hike, a sign that the chance for a “soft-landing” has passed. During a press conference following the FOMC decision, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said a 50 or 75 basis point rate hike “seems most likely” for the Fed’s next meeting in July. Doing so implies an even larger interest rate hike of a full percentage point remains unlikely at this point.
Matthew Luzzetti, chief US economist at Deutsche Bank, wrote in a note to clients, “The Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) and Chair Powell’s presser highlighted a Committee that sees an increasingly narrow path to a soft landing, while still maintaining that as a baseline. The statement removed the reference to maintaining a strong labor market as inflation is brought under control and the SEP anticipates that the unemployment rate will eventually rise by about half a percentage point. We continue to anticipate that the Fed will have to move more aggressively than signaled at [Wednesday’s] meeting and that this tightening will trigger a recession in 2023 that leads to a more material rise in the unemployment rate.”
- Shares of Twitter (TWTR) turned lower, erasing early gains, following Elon Musk’s highly anticipated all-hands meeting with Twitter employees. Musk reportedly discussed a goal of growing Twitter’s user base to 1 billion users, and suggested both subscription and advertising sales would be key to the company’s revenue growth going forward, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. However, he also reportedly did not directly address during the meeting whether he had committed to completing his acquisition of the firm.
- Atlantic Equities downgraded Robinhood (HOOD) stock to Underweight from Neutral on Wednesday and slashed its price target to the lowest on Wall Street at $5 a share. The stock has now lost 80% of its value since IPO.
- A group of SpaceX employees reportedly wrote a letter to the company’s executives that detailed frustrations over the recent behavior and public statements of the company’s founder and chief executive, Elon Musk. “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter reportedly states. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission or our values.”
- Snap (SNAP) is reportedly testing a new subscription service called Snapchat+ that would give subscribers access to exclusive and pre-release features, a Snap spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.
- Apple (AAPL) entered the “buy now, pay later (BNPL) space by launching a feature called Apple Pay Later, in a direct challenge to Affirm (AFRM) and other BNPL stocks.
- A new bill in the House seeks to revoke federally authorized “no-fly zones” over Disney theme parks in the United States. Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) introduced the bill on Monday with six co-sponsors.
- Apple (AAPL) signed a 10-year deal to secure streaming rights to every Major League Soccer (MLS) match starting in 2023. Apple said that “a broad selection” of matches will also be offered at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches offered free.
“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt