Fed Meeting Preview

As we head into the FOMC meeting today, I wish I was a bit more optimistic. The market has priced in a pause in rate increases and a definitively more “dovish” policy statement. The last time I saw the Fed Futures it was around 18% for a rate hike today at 2:15 ET.

Even if we get what the market expects, will the market make a nice run to the upside? I doubt it. We could get an immediate pop, but I don’t think it would hold up. There will be plenty of sellers looking to slim down positions if we get something like +100 on the Dow this afternoon.

The other alternatives suggest we might see reasonable selling pressure. I’ve said here lately that I think we could very well get a 25 basis point hike today. I think the 18% chance that the futures markets have priced in is too optimistic. That said, the hike itself isn’t catastrophic, so long as the Fed makes it clear in their statement that it is the last one for a while.

This is where the problem comes in. I don’t think the Fed will want to say anything that makes them look “dovish” on inflation. Their policy statement, whether they raise rates today or not, might very well talk tough on inflation and indicate that while they are pausing for now, if they continue to see inflation pressures they won’t hesitate to raise rates later in the year.

Such a development would likely cause a market sell-off, making today’s highly anticipated Fed meeting fairly disappointing for those of us who own stocks. I sure hope I’m wrong and we see stock price advances from here over the near term. But if that happens, I would be tempted to take some money off the table. If others feel the same way, any rally will likely be short-lived.

Full Disclosure: With the Dow +43 this morning, I have initiated a short trading position in the Spiders (SPY) for my personal account in anticipation of the gains fading after the Fed decision is released.