Market Update 03/21/22

Katerina Berezovsky

Despite weeks of volatility, the stock market experienced a notable rally from March 15 to March 21, marking a shift in investor sentiment.

The week began with a 6% decline in the price of Brent Crude. In the previous week this soared above $130 per barrel. The decrease in the oil price resulted in a market upswing, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing 1.8%, the S&P 500 climbing 2.1% and the Nasdaq composite climbing 2.9%.

On Wednesday, The Federal Reserve announced an interest rate increase of 25 basis points, the first increase since 2018. Most committee members expect interest rates to reach 1.9% by the year’s end, and they anticipate three more rate hikes in 2023. The Fed maintained that such measures are necessary to control the current level of inflation.

“The implications for the U.S. economy are highly uncertain, but in the near term the invasion and related events are likely to create additional upward pressure on inflation and weigh on economic activity,” the rate-setting committee said in a press release on Wednesday.

Although the anticipation of rate increases has contributed to heightened market volatility over the past several weeks, markets reacted positively to the announcement, with all major indexes finishing higher for the day. Furthermore, the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 2.185%, the highest level since May 2019.

The stock market continued to ascend from Thursday into Friday, with all three major indexes recording their best weekly performance since the end of 2020. The Dow was up 4.9% for the week, the S&P 500 was up 6.9% and the Nasdaq was up 10%.

“The U.S. economy is on a really solid foundation right now, and it’s a key reason why the Fed is feeling comfortable in moving forward with their tightening process without potentially putting the U.S. in a recessionary type of environment,” Jeff Schulze, an investment strategist at ClearBridge Investments LLC, told The Wall Street Journal.

Nevertheless, the rally ended on Monday following Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s more aggressive statement relating to interest rate increases. He asserted that the Fed may be warranted to increase rates by half a point in future meetings.

“If we determine that we need to tighten beyond common measures of neutral[ity] and into a more restrictive stance, we will do that as well,” Powell said.

Overall, despite major indexes experiencing significant upswings over the past week, the uncertain landscape of the global economy may continue to fuel volatility. Investors will also likely lookout for any signs of escalation in the ongoing war, inflation and rate hikes so that they may adjust their portfolios accordingly.