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Seventh Rate Hike since Trump’s Election

As expected, earlier today, the Federal Reserve nudged up the Fed Funds rate by another quarter point.  The Fed is now targeting their rate at 2.25 – 2.5%.  So the range is somewhere in the middle, there. This marks the sixth time the Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates since Donald Trump has been President, and the seventh time that the Fed has hiked rates since Trump was elected. Remember, during the entirety of Obama’s 8-year Presidency, the Fed raised interest rates only once.

A 900-point Selloff

What the markets did not expect was the dovish hike to be so hawkish. In fact, the minute I heard the language, I was surprised that the Dow didn’t immediately sell off, more than it did. It had a bit of a bounce before it sold off, the Dow Jones ended up down just over 350 points.  The selloff from the high to the low was just under 900 points. Earlier in the day the Dow had rallied up about 300 points because there was a lot of anticipation that even though the Fed was going to hike rates today, that it would indicate it would pause.  That was on neutral – that it wasn’t really planning any more rate hikes for 2019, and would just play it by ear. It was going to be data dependent.

Dow’s Worst December since 1932

But what the Federal Reserve said in their official statement that accompanied the news was that they had reduced their expectation for rate hikes for next year from 3 to just 2 anticipated rate hikes.  Now, that may be considered dovish, but it did not nearly meet the expectations of the market.  It was expecting something much more than that. When I heard that, I thought, “The market’s going to get killed.” And it did go down but I think a lot more of the carnage is going to happen probably later in the week and next week.  In fact, the market is now down so much that the Dow is having its worst December since 1932.  Of course, that was the beginning of the Great Depression.