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Final Rate Hike?

As expected, the Fed raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point to a target range of 5.25% to 5.5%. The current target rate is the highest in twenty-two years (March 2001) and the fastest and sharpest rate hike since the early 1980s.


Fed officials did not indicate that they are finished with their tightening cycle. The statement released by the central bank today appears to be the same as the one they put out after the June FOMC meeting, reiterating robust job gains, low unemployment, and continued inflationary pressure. The Fed believes the tightening policy has not been reflected in the economy yet and will wait to see how it progresses before announcing the next move.


Many investors believe the Fed has no valid reason to increase rates further based on the inflation rate having peaked (the inflation rate slipped to 3% year-over-year in June), and the economy showing signs of slowing. Chair Powell also mentioned that the central bank does not believe a U.S. recession will occur. Many expect the Fed will stand pat in the next FOMC meeting in September and decide the next move in the November meeting.


Following Fed’s decision today, the stock market ended mixed. INDU gained 85.05 points or 0.23%, SPX fell -0.71 points or -0.02%, and COMPQ declined 17.27 points or 0.12%. META, one of the Magnificent Seven stocks, META, reported better-than-expected earnings. It is currently trading 7% higher after-hours.


Interest rate futures suggest the probability of the Fed raising rates again this year fell to one in three. At the end of next year, the futures imply the target range will be 100 bps lower than today. Investors will focus on two economic reports, CPI and PPI, and labor market reports before the next FOMC meeting.


Since the bond market (10-year U.S. Treasury Yield – TNX) is a leading indicator of the U.S. economy, what is TNX saying?


TNX shows mixed technical signals, suggesting a pivotal battle between the bulls and the bears.


On the monthly TNX chart, dating back to the mid-1970s, TNX has broken out above its 1981/1987 structural downtrend channels (currently at 3.22% and 2.79%) and the neckline (3.036-3.248%). Two breakouts warn of a structural trend reversal and a head/shoulders bottom reversal, signaling higher interest rates over the long term. Is this a temporary breakout or a significant structural trend reversal? See the enclosed TNX monthly chart for further information.


Another monthly chart between TNX and the Rate of Change shows a double-top pattern in the indicator. The indicator nears a critical stage as it tests the bottom of the double-top formation. A breakdown confirms the top. On the other hand, a successful test confirms the bottom.


The daily chart shows the dominant and primary trend in TNX remains the 2020 uptrend channel. However, on a near-to-medium-term basis, the failure to clear above 4.4-4.5% or the top of the 2020 uptrend channel in late-2022 led to a short-term downtrend channel. Although TNX briefly broke out in late-Jun to early Jul 2023 and rallied to a high of 4.094%, the lack of follow-through to the breakout has triggered another consolidation. The pullback nears critical support along the 50-day ma (3.775%) and 200-day ma (3.707%). A breakdown below the moving averages suggests a decline toward the bottom of its 1-year downtrend channel at 3.12%. A successful test warns of a rally toward initial resistance at 4,091-4.091% and above 4.223-4.433% (Oct/Nov 2022 highs). A breakout above 4.333% signals the resumption of the 2020 uptrend channel.


Investors and traders need to closely monitor the actions of TNX for clues as to whether the Fed is nearing the end of its tightening cycle, whether this is a soft or hard landing, whether inflation is peaking, and if the recent stock market is nearing a peak or if there is room for further rallies.


Source: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Source: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

Source: Chart courtesy of StockCharts.com

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