The Markets: October 12, 2015

10.12.2015

They’re investors. They’re allowed to change their minds.

Just a few weeks ago, on September 17, the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to leave the fed funds rate unchanged. In part, this was because, “Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term.”

The next day, September 18, stock markets tumbled. By the time September was over, many markets had closed on their worst quarter in four years, according to the BBC. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by almost 8 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 7 percent, Germany’s Dax was off by almost 12 percent, and the Shanghai Composite lost more than 24 percent.

Last week, on Thursday, the minutes of the FOMC meeting were released. Investors’ response was quite different. Barron’s reported many believe a rate hike during 2015 is less likely than it once was, and that reinvigorated investor optimism:

“Going into Friday’s session, global equity markets’ valuations were enriched by some $2.5 trillion, according to Bloomberg calculations. As for U.S. stocks, Wilshire Associates reckons that they tacked on 3.44 percent, or approximately $800 billion, over the full week, based on the gain in the Wilshire 5000 index, their biggest weekly gain in nearly 12 months.”

Why does the same news elicit two very different responses? There are many reasons. Foremost among them is the fact a lot of elements influence markets – investor confidence, company valuations, central bank actions, automated trading, and many others.

What does last week’s upward push mean? One analyst cited by Barron’s suggested we’re seeing a bear market rally, but only time will tell.

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