Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fed Appears Ready to Stimulate

Although it could go either way, it's increasingly likely the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke are could act sooner rather than later in attempts to stimulate the economy with another round of quantitative easing.

The market responded to the news by jumping in the morning, pulling back as the day went on. The DJIA closed the day at 12,657.05, jumping 58.73, or 0.47 percent.

The NASDAQ didn't get much help, as Apple (AAPL) and Radio Shack (RSH) took big hits on disappointing earnings. It closed at 2,854.24, losing 8.57, or 0.31 percent.

For the S&P 500, it closed slightly down at $1,337.89, falling 0.42, or 0.03 percent.

Not unexpectedly, commodities jumped on the rising expectations of a sooner than expected stimulus, with gold, silver, copper and oil all settling up on the day.

Gold closed at $1,603, up $27.30, or 1.73 percent. Silver climbed to finish at $27.285, jumping $0.47, or 1.77 percent. Copper ended the session at $3.385, inching up $0.03, or 0.95 percent. Oil closed at $90.669998, up $0.61, or 0.68 percent.

The growing weakness of the U.S., European and Chinese economies has put pressure on the Fed to attempt to get the U.S. economy growing again, as the pace it's currently at isn't considered enough to strengthen it enough to grow on its own.

There is no longer a question of if the Fed will move, if some still believed that was the case (many oddly enough still do), but rather of how quickly to move and with what mechanism.

It's most likely it'll acquire mortgage-backed securities, but that's not a surety. Now that the economy is continuing to sputter, the Fed will probably attempt to make a statement by whatever means is uses to try to support the economy in a way that will inspire confidence. Anything too small would possibly be ignored or more detrimental than not doing anything at all.

For some time it was believed the Fed would wait until September before announcing any stimulus, but that is increasingly unlikely as each day goes by and pressure mounts for something to be done in light of its next meeting starting on July 31.

Now that the assumption the Fed will moved shored up the markets after three straight days of triple-digit losses, it's even more likely we'll see some action taken very quickly.

What is challenging for the Fed, and increasing the pressure on the institution is, do they wait until September and risk being perceived as weak and behind the times if the economy continues to tank, or do they wait for a couple of months to see which direction the economy goes.

I think the failure risk is too great for the Fed to wait. But we'll find out in a few days either way. My guess is they'll announce another round of stimulation next week.


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