The Dow and the NASDAQ set new record highs today as the dollar sold off near the end of the day to close at yet another low for the year. Remember, the dollar index rallied 6% between the election and the Trump inauguration. It has now fallen more than 10% since inauguration. Many currencies are at two-year highs. The Australian dollar is at a 2-year high, certain commodities are at a 2-year high, copper broke to a 2-year high; oil prices have been strong. Oil was up about $.80 today after being up about $2 yesterday. We’re now above $48.50. Getting close to $50/barrel again.
Federal Reserve: “No Hike”
One of the reasons for the strength in commodities is the weakness in the U.S. dollar. The catalyst for the weakness in the dollar today is the Federal Reserve, the FOMC, concluded their 2-day meeting today; their press release came out at 2.30pm ET and they announced that they did not decide to raise interest rates during this meeting. Nobody expected the Fed to raise interest rates, which is one of the reasons why they didn’t.
Balance Sheet Normalization?
There was some anticipation that the Federal Reserve may be more specific concerning when it might start quantitative tightening or ‘balance sheet normalization’ as they call it. So people wanted to know when that would start, and by how much are they going to let their balance sheet to run down but the Fed did not allude to any specifics. All they said is that the process will begin relatively soon. Now the last time they put out a statement, they said it would begin this year. Now they are saying it will begin ‘Relatively soon’. Why didn’t they leave it at “this year”? Because “this year” would be within the next six months. “Relatively Soon” leaves the statement comfortably vague enough to fit within the Fed’s slippery parameters.
Gold Hanging In There
The markets didn’t know what to do for the first half hour, but eventually the dollar broke, and gold finally popped up; it was up around $11-12. It was about unchanged going into the announcement and the knee-jerk reaction was a $2-3 selloff, then it came back to unchanged and then we had the rally. Gold stocks had a pretty good day today; the GDX up about 2.5%; the junior minors doing a little bit better. Yet these stocks have barely moved this year, but this is just getting started.