Market Update 03/27/23

Chris Koruth John

Markets increased slightly between March 21 and March 27 as officials attempted to rally confidence behind the financial sector.

Markets gained on Tuesday as investors awaited the Federal Reserve’s rate hike decision. Investors were convinced that the Fed would begin a downtrend in rate hikes amid gloomy economic conditions. Wall Street’s median consensus priced in a 25-basis-points hike for March.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.0%, the S&P 500 rose 1.3% and the Nasdaq composite rose 1.6%. The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, a proxy for general investor sentiment with relation to fear and uncertainty, plummeted 11.5%.

Regional banks cut back a week of losses with a slight increase on Tuesday. The SPDR Regional Banking index rose 6%. The increase was due mainly to First Republic Bank, whose shares rose 29.5% thanks to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s comments concerning the sector.

“Our intervention was necessary to protect the broader U.S. banking system,” Yellen said in her remarks to the American Bankers Association. “And similar actions could be warranted if smaller institutions suffer deposit runs that pose the risk of contagion.”

The three indexes bled on Wednesday following a widely anticipated 25-basis-points rate hike and bearish sentiment exuded by Yellen.

“I have not considered or discussed anything having to do with blanket insurance or guarantees of all deposits,” she said during testimony before the U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

Following this announcement, regional bank shares fell with First Republic Bank, PacWest Bancorp and Western Alliance Bancorp.   losing 15.5%, 17.1% and 5%, respectively. The sector suffered as investors digested the possibility of limited federal intervention in the case of a full-blown banking crisis.

By Wednesday’s close, the Dow slid 1.6%, the S&P 500 slid 1.65% and the technology-heavy Nasdaq slid 1.6%. The volatility index increased 4.1% to a value of $22.26.

Markets closed in the green on Thursday as investors began to price in the likelihood of a near term stoppage of Fed rate hikes. The Dow gained 0.2%, the S&P 500 gained 0.3% and the Nasdaq gained 1.0%.

“I do still think though that there’s, there’s a pathway to a soft landing and, you know, we’re certainly trying to find it,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said during a press conference.

His optimistic outlook had a noticeable impact on equities, with investors gaining confidence.

The two-year Treasury yield declined to 3.846% from Wednesday’s closing value of 3.935%. On Thursday, the 10-year Treasury yield declined to 3.422% from 3.444%.     As yields fall, the act of seeking investment opportunities in the equities market becomes far more lucrative.

The U.S. Department of Labor said jobless claims fell to 191,000 for the week that ended on March 18. Consensus for jobless claims were 197,000 amid unfavorable macroeconomic conditions.

All three major indexes closed sharply higher on Friday as Fed officials attempted to instill confidence surrounding the banking sector. The Dow grew 0.4%, the S&P 500 grew 0.6% and the Nasdaq grew 0.3%. The volatility index fell 3.85% to $21.74.

Markets closed mixed on Monday as First Citizens Bancshares Inc. agreed to purchase stakes of SVB Financial Group. First Citizens acquired over $56 billion of SVB deposits with guarantees from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. The Dow rose 0.6%, the S&P 500 rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq lost 0.5%.

Investors should look to promptly diversify their portfolios into firms unaffected by the dismal financial sector outlook. Companies focusing on fee-based revenues will make an ideal investment at this time.