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Explaining the volatile stock and bond market moves this week following the Fed’s update

The Fed unleashed a huge repositioning in markets, as investor reacted to a world where the central bank no longer guarantees its policies will remain easy.

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The Federal Reserve unleashed a huge repositioning in global financial markets, as investors reacted to a world where the U.S. central bank is no longer guaranteeing its policies will be dovish — or easy.

The dollar surged the most in a year over a two-day period against a basket of currencies.

Stocks were mixed around the world on Thursday, as were bond markets. Many commodities sold off. The Nasdaq Composite was higher, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average slid. Tech gained, and cyclical stocks fell.

The central bank delivered a strong message Wednesday when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said officials have discussed tapering bond buying and would at some point decide to begin the process of slowing the purchases. At the same time, Fed officials added two rate hikes to their 2023 forecast, where there were none before.

“It’s the end of peak dovishness,” Bleakley Global Advisors chief investment officer Peter Boockvar said. “It’s not going hawkish. It’s just we’re past peak dovishness. This market response is as if they were already tapering.”

Not an immediate shock, but volatility ahead

Strategists say the Fed’s slight step toward tightening policy didn’t shock markets Wednesday, but it will likely make them volatile going forward. The Fed, in essence, is acknowledging the door is now open to future rate hikes.

It is expected to make a fuller declaration about the bond program later this year, and then within several months start the slow process of bringing $120 billion a month in purchases down to zero.

The yields of shorter-duration Treasurys, like the 2-year note, rose. Longer duration yields, such as the benchmark 10-year, fell. That so-called “flattening” is a go-to trade when interest rates rise. The logic is that longer yields fall since the economy may not do as well in the future with higher interest rates, and short-end yields rise to reflect expectations of the Fed raising rates.

U.S. longer-dated Treasurys, like the 10-year, have been lower than many strategists had expected lately. That’s in part because they are highly attractive to foreign buyers due to negative rates in other parts of the world and liquidity in the U.S. markets. The 10-year yield shot to 1.59% after the Fed news, but was back down at 1.5% Thursday afternoon. Yields move opposite price.

Commodities-related stocks, like energy names and materials shares, were down sharply Thursday afternoon. Energy was the worst-performing S&P 500 sector, falling 3.5%. Materials lost 2.2%.

“It’s a massive flattening of the yield curve. It’s an interest rate trade, and it’s the belief the Fed is going to slow growth,” Boockvar said. “So sell commodities, sell cyclicals… and in a slow growing economy people want to buy growth. It’s all happening in two days. It’s just a lot of rewinds.”

Boockvar said the curve flattening has been happening swiftly, too. For instance, the spread between the 5-year yield and 30-year bond yield quickly compressed, moving from 140 basis points to 118 basis points within two days.

“You’re watching an incredible unwind of positioning in the bond market. I don’t think people thought the Fed would do it,” BlackRock CIO of global fixed income Rick Rieder said.

“We thought the flattening trade was the right move when we saw some of the news out of the Fed. That was something we jumped on pretty quickly. I have to say we’re letting some Treasurys go into this rally,” Rieder told CNBC.

For stock investors, the shift in cyclical stocks goes against a trade that has been popular as the economy reopened. Financial stocks fell on the flatter yield curve, but REITs were slightly higher. Technology stocks rose 1.2%, and health care gained 0.8%.

“The implication is higher stock market volatility, which I think we’re going to have and going to continue to have,” BTIG head of equity and derivatives strategy Julian Emanuel said. “Yesterday changed things. This whole idea of data dependency — the market is going to trade it like crazy, particularly given the fact that the public participation remains very elevated and the stocks the public is most interested in are high multiple growth stocks that have been leading the last several weeks as the bond market remained range bound.”

Even as Powell acknowledged inflation was higher than the Fed expected, the central bank also pressed its message that inflationary pressures could be temporary. The Fed’s boosted its forecast for core inflation to 3% for this year but was at just 2.1% for next year, in its latest projections. Powell used the example of the rise and fall of lumber prices to illustrate his view that inflation will not be long lasting.

But Emanuel said it will be difficult to tell whether inflation is fleeting , and the economy’s emergence from the pandemic has been difficult to predict. “Whether it’s the Fed or paid economists on the sell side, or paid economists on the buy side, the ability to measure what’s going on in the economy is really nothing more than … educated guess work at this point because the statistics are just all over the place,” Emanuel said, adding inflation readings have all been hotter than expected.

He expects the market will trade in a range for now, with the bottom at 4,050 on the S&P 500 and the top at 4,250. The S&P 500 closed at 4,221 on Thursday, down just 1 point. The Dow was of by 0.6% at 33,823, and the Nasdaq rose by 0.9% at 14,161.

The late-July Fed meeting now looms large. That could add even more volatility as investors wait to see if the Fed will provide more details on tapering after that meeting. Many economists expect the Fed to use its annual Jackson Hole symposium in late August as a forum to lay out its plan for the bond program.

The bond purchases, or quantitative easing, were launched last year as a way to provide liquidity to markets during the economic downturn that started last year. The Fed purchases $80 billion in Treasurys and $40 billion in mortgage securities each month. Rieder expects the Fed could slow purchases by $20 billion a month once it starts the tapering. Once the Fed gets to zero, it could then consider when to raise interest rates.

The market expectations for rate hikes have moved forward, and the euro-dollar futures market now sees four rate hikes by the end of 2023, according to Marc Chandler of Bannockburn Global Forex. Prior to the Fed’s announcement Wednesday, futures showed expectations for about 2.5 rate hikes.

Strategist expect some of the Fed reaction is just temporary, and reflects investors who were too far offsides in some positions. “I’m still a commodities bull,” Boockvar said. Commodities had already begun falling ahead of the Fed announcement, after China announced plans to release metals reserves.

“The Fed needed to reign in the inflation story. They did it only very very slightly, but at least they accomplished it, and they’ve squeezed out inflation expectations and they’ve seen a pullback,” he said. “The question is can they through. To raise rates in two years or baby step tapering is not going to do it, but at least for two days they’ve succeeded in calming things down.”

The dollar index jumped 0.8% on Thursday afternoon, about the same as Wednesday’s move.

Chandler said the dollar move could also be a temporary adjustment and not part of a much bigger move. The dollar index’s gain largely reflect the dollar’s move against the euro, weaker as the European Central Bank continues to sound dovish.

“Norway signaled [Thursday] that they are going to hike rates in September and yet the dollar rallied against Norway. I think what happened yesterday set off a new wave of positioning in the currencies. … If it’s not done it’s nearly done,” he said.

The biggest component of the dollar index basket is the euro. “The correction is long in the tooth. It began in late May. That’s when the euro put in its last high,” said Chandler.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/18/explaining-the-volatile-stock-and-bond-market-moves-this-week-following-the-feds-update.html

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/earnings/

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Stitch Fix shares surge as online styling service reports surprise profit

Stitch Fix shares jumped after the online shopping and styling service reported a surprise profit for its fiscal fourth quarter.

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The Stitch Fix application for download in the Apple App Store on a smartphone arranged in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, U.S., on Saturday, June 5, 2021. Stitch Fix Inc. is scheduled to release earning on June 7.

Tiffany Hagler-Geard | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stitch Fix shares jumped 14% in extended trading Tuesday after the online shopping and styling service reported a surprise profit for its fiscal fourth quarter.

Sales for the three-month period ended July 31 also came in higher than analysts were expecting, thanks to outsized growth in Stitch Fix’s women’s and kids’ categories. Menswear has been growing more slowly, the company said.

Consumers have been splurging on new outfits in recent months, as many head back to school and return to social gatherings. Some have also citied the need for new clothes after either gaining or losing weight during the Covid pandemic.

Here’s how Stitch Fix did compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 19 cents vs. a loss of 13 cents expected
  • Revenue: $571.2 million vs. $548 million expected

Net income attributable to shareholders was $28 million, or 19 cents per share, in the latest period. A year ago, it posted a net loss of $44.5 million, or 44 cents a share. Analysts had been looking for the company to book a loss of 13 cents per share.

Revenue grew to $571.2 million from $443.4 million a year earlier. That was better than analysts’ expectations for $548 million.

Stitch Fix reported nearly 4.2 million active clients, up 18% from a year earlier. The company said net revenue per active client was $505, surpassing the $500 threshold for the first time ever. Customers have been purchasing more items to keep at home, Stitch Fix said, as they have more brands and price points to choose from.

Stitch Fix defines active clients as people who either ordered a “Fix” subscription or bought an item directly from its website in the preceding 52 weeks from the final day of the quarter.

The company also said it had its lowest ever churn rate at the end of the period, meaning its customers are sticking around.

Last month, Stitch Fix finally opened up its direct-buy option, which is now known as “Freestyle,” to the public. This allows people to shop Stitch Fix for individual items of clothing, without needing to sign up for a subscription.

CEO Elizabeth Spaulding said this should help Stitch Fix grow its addressable market in the year ahead. The company’s next initiative will be to market and raise broader awareness around the offering, she said. Stitch Fix is preparing to roll out a national advertising campaign on the debut.

Early indications are that “Freestyle” is meaningfully accretive to the company’s revenue per active client metric, Spaulding told analysts on a conference call.

“Clients have agency, flexibility and choice while also experiencing a highly personalized shopping experience,” Spaulding said.

For its fiscal first quarter, Stitch Fix said it sees sales in a range of $560 million to $575 million. That’s below analysts’ expectations for $588 million.

For the upcoming fiscal year, Stitch Fix anticipates sales rising 15% or more from the prior year. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had been looking for an 18% increase.

While the entire retail industry is working through supply chain complications, Stitch Fix said it is seeing a small impact, but nothing that will hurt the business in the fall and winter months. The company said it is less reliant on Vietnam, where manufacturing has largely come to a standstill due to ongoing pandemic lockdowns in the region.

As of Tuesday’s market close, Stitch Fix shares have fallen nearly 39% this year. The company has a market cap of $3.8 billion.

Find the full press release from Stitch Fix here.

Sales for the three-month period ended July 31 also came in higher than analysts were expecting, thanks to outsized growth in Stitch Fix’s women’s and kids’ categories. Menswear has been growing more slowly, the company said.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/21/stitch-fix-sfix-q4-2021-earnings.html

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© 2021 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved. A Division of NBCUniversal

Data is a real-time snapshot *Data is delayed at least 15 minutes. Global Business and Financial News, Stock Quotes, and Market Data and Analysis.

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Data also provided by Reuters

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/earnings/

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