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The stock market spent the first half of the Wednesday session in the red, but surged into the green following the latest policy statement from the Federal Open Market Committee. The S&P 500 settled higher by 1.2% with all ten sectors ending in the green.
Over the past few days, much of the discussion centered around today's FOMC Statement with participants speculating whether the central bank was going to remove its call for patience. Although the Fed took out "patient," the statement remained quite dovish as the Fed lowered its 2015 GDP forecast range to 2.3%-2.7% from 2.6%-3.0% that was expected in December. Furthermore, the central bank lowered its inflation forecast range to 0.6%-0.8% from 1.0%-1.6%.
Staying on the inflation theme, the committee noted that it needs to be "reasonably confident" that inflation will move back towards the 2.0% objective before hiking rates.
The S&P 500 spiked about 20 points immediately following the statement and continued its advance as the afternoon progressed. Similarly, Treasuries surged in reaction to the diminished likelihood of June rate hike with the 10-yr yield falling 10 basis points to 1.95%. The benchmark note continued its advance during electronic trading, pressuring its yield to the lowest level since early February (1.92%).
Conversely, the dovish tone weighed on the greenback, sending the Dollar Index (97.48, -2.11) lower by 2.2% to last week's levels. Notably, the euro jumped nearly 3.0% to 1.0900, and the pullback in the dollar gave a boost to commodities. Gold futures spiked 1.7% to $1168.20/ozt while crude oil rallied 3.0% to $44.77/bbl. In turn, the energy sector (+2.9%) finished the day in the lead while the utilities sector (+2.7%) led the countercyclical side.
The utilities sector solidified its spot atop this week's leaderboard (+4.3% week-to-date) while the top-weighted countercyclical group—health care (+1.3%)—settled in-line with the market. Interestingly, biotechnology struggled to keep pace with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 358.14, +1.89) climbing 0.6%. To be fair, the biotech ETF still managed to register its fifth consecutive gain while setting a fresh record high.
Switching back to the cyclical side, the top-weighted technology sector (+1.3%) finished just ahead of the broader market with Oracle (ORCL 44.13, +1.26) providing support. The sector heavyweight spiked 2.9% after reporting in-line earnings on below-consensus revenue; however, the company boosted its quarterly dividend by 25.0% to $0.15/share. In other sector earnings, Adobe (ADBE 76.89, -2.77) lost 3.5% after its cautious guidance for Q2 overshadowed a bottom-line beat.
Elsewhere, transport stocks underperformed after FedEx (FDX 173.30, -2.41) beat bottom-line estimates and guided below consensus estimates. Shares of FDX fell 1.4% while the broader Dow Jones Transportation Average added 0.4%. For its part, the industrial sector (+1.2%) settled in-line with the broader market.
Today's participation was ahead of average with more than 860 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.
Economic data was limited to the weekly MBA Mortgage Index, which fell 3.9% to follow last week's 1.3% decline.
Tomorrow, weekly Initial Claims (Briefing.com consensus 293K) and Q4 Current Account Balance (consensus -$105.00 billion) will be reported at 8:30 ET while February Leading Indicators (expected 0.2%) and March Philadelphia Fed Survey (consensus 6.9) will both be released at 10:00 ET.
Nasdaq Composite +5.2% YTD
Russell 2000 +3.9% YTD
S&P 500 +2.0% YTD
Dow Jones Industrial Average +1.4% YTD
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