40 Days and 40 Nights – What will the Fed Do?

There are just 40 days remaining before the next Fed meeting. All eyes will be on the Fed to see if they pull the trigger on the first Fed Funds rate hike since June of 2006, and the last Fed Funds rate change since December of 2008, when the Fed placed that rate in a range between 0% and 0.25%. Stocks have rebounded significantly from the dips in August and again in September, when the S&P 500 dropped below 1,900, only to bounce back above 2,100 recently, a gain of about 12.5% from those lows. Interestingly, stocks are barely positive for the year, with the S&P 500 up just 30 points from last year’s final level, or by only 1.7%. Investors have endured some shocking volatility (read risk) to eek-out such lackluster performance year-to-date. Should the Fed choose to raise rates next month, stocks will very likely end the year with negative performance, and could certainly sell-off dramatically again, just as they did in August and September. Even if the Fed decides not to raise in December, everyone knows that the first of many rate hikes is a foregone conclusion, and any delay by the Fed is exactly that – a delay of the inevitable. Given this backdrop, any further upside for stocks, at least for the foreseeable future, will be limited. The next 40 days will pass quickly as consumers ramp-up their holidays shopping and plan for travel. It will be interesting to see if investors can remain positive and focused on supporting current stock prices.


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