Fed’s Powell Hints at Rate Cuts, Bonds Rally (Weekly Cheat Sheet)

Whew, what a week it’s been in the stock market! Investors had their hands full digesting a slew of earnings reports, economic data, and Fed commentary. Let’s dive in and break down the key takeaways.

Week in Review

The major indices experienced some consolidation this week after hitting all-time highs. The S&P 500 slipped 0.3%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 1.2%. However, the Russell 2000 managed to eke out a 0.3% gain. Under the hood, we saw some interesting sector dynamics:

  • Consumer Discretionary took the biggest hit, tumbling 2.04% as investors took profits in mega-cap names like Amazon and Tesla.
  • Information Technology and Communication Services also felt the heat, declining 1.2% and 0.3%, respectively.
  • On the flip side, defensive sectors like Utilities (+2.92%), Materials (+2.08%), and Real Estate (+2.99%) outperformed, along with Energy (+1.2%).

Bond Market Moves and Rate Expectations

Treasuries caught a bid this week, with yields falling across the curve. The 2-year note yield dipped 4 basis points to 4.49%, while the 10-year note yield slid 9 basis points to 4.09%.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell‘s congressional testimony reinforced the market’s expectation for rate cuts later this year. He noted that while the Fed isn’t ready to start cutting rates just yet, they’re “not far” from gaining the confidence needed to scale back.

Corporate Highlights and Market Movers

Earnings season continued to drive stock-specific moves:

  • CrowdStrike (CRWD) rallied after delivering impressive results and guidance, lifting sentiment in the cybersecurity space.
  • New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) staged a comeback after initially plunging on news of a capital raise. The bank secured over $1 billion in investments from high-profile backers.
  • JetBlue (JBLU) and Spirit Airlines (SAVE) ended their merger plans after losing an antitrust lawsuit. JBLU rallied 11%, while SAVE plummeted 25%.

Economic Data Deluge

A busy economic calendar kept investors on their toes:

  • The February jobs report showed a stronger-than-expected 275,000 payroll gain, but the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9%. Wage growth also cooled, rising just 0.1% month-over-month.
  • ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI slipped to 52.6% in February, with the employment component contracting for the second time in three months.
  • Consumer credit surged $19.5 billion in January, nearly double the consensus estimate, driven by a jump in revolving credit like credit cards.

Bottom Line for Investors

This week’s market action highlighted the ongoing tug-of-war between the soft landing narrative and concerns about frothy valuations. While the economic data largely supported a benign outlook, profit-taking in high-flying tech and mega-cap names weighed on the major indices.

Looking ahead, investors should keep a close eye on the evolving interest rate picture and its implications for different sectors. Defensive plays like utilities and real estate could continue to benefit from a more dovish Fed, while growth-oriented names may face near-term headwinds as valuations normalize.

As always, maintaining a diversified portfolio and staying attuned to both macro developments and individual company fundamentals will be key to navigating this dynamic market environment. Stay nimble out there, folks!


Oil & Energy

Oil prices have been stagnant this week, despite a flurry of activity in the news. Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of OPEC, caused a stir by raising its official selling prices to its Asian customers, even though the cartel extended its production quotas. Meanwhile, China’s latest trade figures showed oil imports up year-on-year, but with a trend towards slower growth month-on-month. And in the United States, weekly inventories continue to rise, albeit modestly.

As a result, Brent crude is trading at around $82.50, while WTI is trading at around $78. It seems that the market is still trying to find its footing amidst these various developments.

Gold & Precious Metals

On the other hand, metals are having a moment in the sun, thanks to China’s latest economic data. The country’s metal imports and exports are fairly robust, indicating that industrial demand is improving. This has led to positive reactions in metal prices:

  • Copper is trading at $8,600 per tonne in London
  • Aluminum is up to $2,250
  • Zinc is gaining ground at $2,530

However, the real star of the show is gold, which posted a third consecutive week of gains to reach $2,172. Dollar-denominated gold hit an all-time high thanks to bets on lower interest rates, which favors the precious metal, an asset that, by definition, delivers no yield. Who would have thought that a shiny metal could outshine the rest?


Speaking of breaking records, Bitcoin (BTC) has been on a tear this week, even breaking through its all-time high. On Tuesday, the digital currency momentarily reached $69,250, beating its previous record of November 2021, when it reached $68,900 at its peak. This performance was largely due to the constant influx of capital into Bitcoin Spot ETFs, with BlackRock’s Bitcoin ETF now having over $12 billion in assets under management.

Bitcoin is up over 7% since Monday, and is currently trading at around $68,000. And it’s not just Bitcoin that’s benefiting from this enthusiasm – other cryptocurrencies are also seeing significant gains:

  • Ethereum (ETH) is up 13.5% and approaching its all-time high
  • Solana (SOL) is up 14%
  • Memecoins like Floki (FLOKI) and Shiba Inu (SHIB) are up 56% and 64%, respectively

It seems that the crypto market is on fire, and investors are eager to get in on the action. But as always, it’s important to remember that cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and risky investments, so it’s crucial to do your own research and invest responsibly.


Overall, it’s been an interesting week for the financial markets, with some sectors experiencing stagnation while others have reached new heights. Oil prices have stalled despite a busy news week, while metals are shining on robust Chinese demand. And in the world of cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has broken records and led a surge in the broader crypto market.

As always, it’s important to stay informed and keep an eye on these trends, but also to approach investments with caution and do your own research. Who knows what the next week will bring in this ever-changing landscape?

Calendar & Movers

Economic Reports

Next week, all eyes will be on the consumer price index report on Tuesday for February. Economists are anticipating a 0.4% month-over-month increase in headline CPI and a 0.3% rise when food and energy categories are excluded. On a year-over-year basis, inflation is expected to show a 3.1% uptick.

In addition to the CPI report, other key economic indicators set to be released include:

  • Producer price index report 🏭
  • Retail sales report 🛍️
  • The latest reading from the University of Michigan on consumer sentiment 🎓

After digesting all this data, investors may walk away with new interest rate expectations. Goldman Sachs currently believes that the first-rate cuts from major central banks, including the Federal ReserveEuropean Central BankBank of England, and Bank of Canada, will occur in June. However, there’s still some uncertainty surrounding this forecast, as central bankers are hesitant to provide guidance too far in advance.

I anticipate softer payroll data and a continuation of the disinflationary trend. If this plays out, it could allow the Federal Reserve to reduce rates sooner, potentially leading to a soft landing for the economy.

Earnings and Conferences

The earnings calendar for the upcoming week is headlined by Oracle (ORCL) and several consumer-facing companies, such as Dollar Tree (DLTR)Kohl’s (KSS), and Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS). Analysts will be closely monitoring these reports to gauge the health of the consumer sector.

Meanwhile, the conference circuit is buzzing with activity. The Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference and Barclays 26th Annual Global Healthcare Conference are both set to take place during the week. These events provide valuable insights into industry trends and company strategies.

Investors will also be keeping a close eye on the Starbucks’ (SBUX) annual meeting of shareholders. Will the coffee giant brew up any surprises?

Healthcare Watch

In the healthcare sector, the FDA action date arrives for Madrigal Pharmaceuticals’ (MDGL) Resmetirom. This drug has the potential to become the first and only medicine approved for NASH liver disease, a significant milestone in the fight against this condition.

Market Volatility 📊

As the week draws to a close, the stock market could experience some extra volatility due to triple witching day on March 15. This event features the simultaneous expiration of stock options, stock index futures, and stock index options contracts, which can lead to increased trading activity and price fluctuations.

Buckle up, investors! It’s shaping up to be an eventful week filled with economic reports, earnings releases, conferences, and potential market movers. Stay tuned and stay informed as we navigate the ever-changing financial landscape together.

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