Maybe the Fed should hold weekly meetings.
For the fourth straight day, the major indices are bouncing in front the Federal Reserve's expected half-percentage-point hike in the target
fed funds rate, to be announced at 2:15 p.m. EDT. This morning's
Consumer Price Index
was weak, as expected, and it jolted technology stocks out of the dumps and gave support to nontech names.
Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 136, or 1.3%, to 10,944, another strong gain for that average. The
Nasdaq Composite Index surged 101, or 2.8%, to 3708, and the
S&P 500 gained 14, or 1%, to 1466. The
Russell 2000 was up 8, or 1.7%, to 506.
The CPI was unchanged in April, largely due to falling energy prices, a decline that's been reversed in May. The core CPI, excluding food and energy prices, was up 0.2% in April, in line with economists' expectations. On a year-over-year basis, the core CPI is rising at a 2.2% rate.
The technology sector has been tremendous today, shaking off some of the doldrums that have kept the Comp near the low end of its recent trading range. Blue-chips like
have asserted themselves today. Apple is up 6.6% after positive analyst comments, and the
Morgan Stanley High-Tech 35
is up 3.4%.
The CPI release, coupled with last week's soft
Producer Price Index
data, has market players thumping their chests again, beginning to think that the Fed may be finished hiking rates if it bumps the funds rate up 50 basis points to 6.5%. That hope, to some, represents an opportunity to sell this afternoon.
"Typically, we've seen buying after the announcement," said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at
. "It all depends on what they say. I don't expect anything different in the statement, so they don't cannibalize their action, but maybe since the Dow is up 550 points in four days, maybe it's a 'sell on the news.'"
Others were more blunt. "We'll get a little spike after, and then you sell," said Larry Rice, chief investment strategist at
. "You don't want to do it all on one day, but we've had a several-hundred point rally."
The Dow's technology components are asserting themselves, as
(up 3.1%) and Intel (up 2.5%) account for 81 points of positive influence on the 30-stock average.
There's life in the Net stocks yet.
TheStreet.com Internet Sector
index was up 54, or 6.2%, to 935, led by a 21% gain in
, which is expected to announce a merger with Spain's
later today. Terra was down 1.7%.
Chip Stocks 'Phenomenal'
Chip stocks such as Intel and
are stronger. Motorola has gained 2.9%, and the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange Semiconductor Index
has gained 3.9%.
New York Stock Exchange's most active is
, up 5.5%, on 14.6 million shares.
"Chip stocks this morning have been phenomenal, and they had gotten beaten up," said Randy Billhardt, co-head of block trading at
. "Regardless of where we are in the cycle, tech stocks have led us up before. It's the area where people want to go if there's some comfort in where interest rates are."
Which there may be. If the Fed raises the funds rate to 6.5%, the fed funds rate will stand at its highest since Feb. 1, 1991, the day the Fed lowered rates to 6.25% from 6.75%. A number of stock strategists believe the Fed has at least one more rate hike in it, although many economists predict several more actions from the Fed this year.
But those taking a longer view believe this four-day rally demonstrates that though most economists believe the Fed's got some more hiking left to do, the market has grown comfortable with the rise in interest rates, confident that it will generate a so-called soft landing, rather than a recession. The CPI report supports that view, according to Boockvar, who added, "Everyone knows what the Fed was going to do. The CPI was the mystery."
For that reason, certain sectors of the market recognized as interest-rate sensitive have performed well in recent days, such as financial stocks and retailers. The
S&P Retail Index
lately was up 0.4%. Among the leaders were
, up 6.6%, and
, which has gained 6.1%.
Brokerages are still strong today, although banks are shedding a bit of their recent strength. The
American Stock Exchange Broker/Dealer Index
was lately up 2.2% while the
Philadelphia Stock Exchange/KBW Bank Index
was down 0.9%.
Josephthal's Rice was wary of this rally, because its been marked by anemic volume and lackluster internals. Volume hasn't improved today, although it's expected to spike after the Fed's decision.
Among the day's biggest losers has been
, down 30.4% after a profit warning. The bottler's woes weren't helping its 40% owner, Dow component
, which has lost 3.7% today.
Breadth was positive on mediocre volume.
New York Stock Exchange
: 1,651 advancers, 1,112 decliners, 522 million shares. 72 new highs, 37 new lows.
Nasdaq Stock Market
: 2,334 advancers, 1,489 decliners, 783 million shares. 52 new highs, 50 new lows.
For a look at stocks in the midsession news, see Midday Stocks to Watch, published separately.