By Chloe Aiello
Markets surged on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced it would leave interest rates unchanged. In a statement that was released following the conclusion of the Fed's quarterly, two-day meeting, the central bank said it would maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25 to 2.5 percent.
The Federal Open Market Committee also hinted at future monetary policy, emphasizing it "will be patient" as it determines what future adjustments to make in order to support "sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective."
The language mimics previous comments made by Fed Chair Jerome Powell at the American Economic Association's annual meeting in Atlanta in early January. Alongside past Fed chairs Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, Powell reiterated that "there is no preset path for policy," and that the Fed "will be patient as we watch to see how the economy evolves."
"Back in November, December, I think the markets thought the Fed was against them. Now what they are seeing is a more responsive Fed and a much more gentle Fed in terms of handling where we are in growth," R "Ray" Wang, analyst and founder of Constellation Research told Cheddar.
Conspicuously absent from the Fed's statement was language about future rate hikes. The Fed sent markets plunging in December when it said it anticipated "some further gradual increases" in 2019 ー two specifically, down from the three hikes it had predicted in September. In a separate statement, the Fed also said that it would continue to normalize its balance sheet, but was prepared to alter details of the program “in light of economic and financial developments."
Should the Fed decided to hike rates in 2019, Wang said he felt the markets could handle an increase or two.
"I think the markets have priced in at least one rate hike ー probably not two and probably not three. So I think we are somewhere between one and two rate hikes that are being priced into the markets," he added.
The tech-heavy Cheddar 50 Index, which measures the performance of Cheddar's 50 top companies ー from Apple ($AAPL) to GM ($GM) ー was up about 3.5 percent in intraday trading. Apple, Alibaba ($BABA), and Amazon ($AMZN) were the top performers, while CBS ($CBS), Walmart ($WMT), and AT&T ($T) dragged.
Meanwhile, three benchmark indices were also up. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 1.7 percent, or about 410 points, the S&P 500 was up about 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq surged close to 2 percent.
For full interview click here.