Stocks gave up some of their gains after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised rates by 75 basis points as expected in an effort to slow surging inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 100 points, while the S&P 500 rose nearly 0.8% and Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.6% in the wake of the decision, which came at the end of a two-day policy meeting.
“The Committee is strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2 percent objective,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement.
Wednesday’s move marked the central bank’s biggest hike since 1994. It signals that the Fed is getting more aggressive in its efforts to tamp down rising inflation as many investors had hoped.
The market had bet on a more than 95% chance of a 75 basis point rate hike, the biggest increase since 1994, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. (1 basis point equals 0.01%). The larger-than-usual rate hike came amid headlines that Fed officials were contemplating such a move following a surprisingly hot inflation reading and worsening economic outlook.
The Fed’s benchmark rate is now slated to end the year at 3.4%, based on the midpoint of the target range of individual members’ expectations.
“The change in the headline from 50 basis points to 75 basis points reflects a stark reality but it also reflects the Fed’s determination to underscore its commitment to its mandate to maintain price stability,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist at LPL Financial. “It’s neither a trial balloon nor a lead balloon — it’s reality.”
Communication services and consumer discretionary led the rally, gaining roughly 2% as technology stocks Tesla, Amazon, Apple and Alphabet rose. Financials also staged a 1.6% rebound while shares of Boeing, Goldman Sachs and Cisco brought the Dow higher.
Beaten-up travel names also bounced back, with cruise stocks Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line rising about 3% and 4%, respectively. Shares of airline stocks including Delta and United also rose about 4% each.
Wednesday’s early moves likely indicate investors buying in after the recent sell-off and hoping for more certainty from the Fed, said Adam Sarhan, CEO of 50 Park Investment.
“The stronger the Fed can be with respect to raising rates, the greater the likelihood the market will rally,” he said. “The market wants to see definitive action. The market wants certainty, the market wants clarity and the market wants to know that the Fed can regain control of the narrative.”
Fed Chair Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET following the central bank’s policy decision. Investors will be monitoring his language and tone about the Fed’s tightening path forward. The central bank will also release its outlook for its benchmark rate, inflation and GDP.
Some notable investors, including Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman, believe the central bank can regain credibility by acting aggressively to show its seriousness in combating inflation.
The Fed “raises 75 bps, expresses a high level of concern about inflation and inflationary expectations, and makes clear that nothing is off the table for July including 100 bps or more if necessary,” he wrote in a tweet Wednesday as his “prediction” ahead of the Fed decision.
Treasury yields, which have jumped dramatically this week in anticipation of the big rate hike, pulled back on Wednesday. The 2-year rate, most sensitive to changes in monetary policy, surged 40 basis points this week alone to hit its highest level since 2007. The benchmark 10-year yield popped more than 30 basis points to top 3.48%, a high not seen since April 2011.
Meanwhile, some traders anticipate more pain ahead for the markets.
“We think risk assets will still have to correct lower and remain firmly risk-off in our tactical asset allocation,” wrote HSBC Global Research’s Max Kettner. “The very recent market obsession surrounding a ‘bear market rally’ now appears to be something of a fad,” he added.
Wednesday’s moves came after the S&P 500 suffered a five-day losing streak and dipped further into bear market territory on Tuesday. The index has already fallen more than 3% this week already and is now off nearly 22% from its all-time time hit in early January. The blue-chip Dow slid about 150 points Tuesday, also falling for a fifth straight day Tuesday. The Nasdaq Composite ended Tuesday slightly higher.
“While all eyes will be on the Fed this afternoon, we expect next phase of the current bear market to be driven by rising recession risks and a downward earnings revisions cycle,” wrote Wolfe Research’s Chris Senyek.