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Equities Fall as Powell’s Testimony Leaves Room for Interpretation

Market Update - Daniel Ang The Accidental Trader Traders Academy International 5

In the latest daily market update, we dive into the implications of Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s testimony before Congress on Thursday, June 21, 2023. Powell’s remarks regarding inflation and the potential future course of interest rates had a notable impact on equity markets. While his overall tone signaled a continuation of the Fed’s efforts to combat inflation, some analysts perceived a more moderate stance compared to their initial expectations. This update provides an overview of the market response, including the performance of major indices, treasury yields, currency pairs, crude oil prices, and precious metals. Additionally, we explore the recent surge in Bitcoin, attributed to renewed interest from institutional investors and the launch of the EDX Markets crypto exchange.

Equity Market Reaction to Powell’s Testimony:
The equity markets experienced a decline overnight following Jerome Powell’s remarks. Powell emphasized that the battle against inflation is far from over, suggesting that further actions may be necessary. However, analysts noted that his comments were less hawkish than anticipated, leading to mixed interpretations among market participants. The two-day hearing, part of Powell’s semiannual reports to Congress, provided insight into the Federal Reserve’s stance on interest rates.

The Nasdaq index witnessed the most significant decline on Wall Street, while the S&P 500 technology sector underperformed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 102.35 points or 0.3%, closing at 33,951.52. The S&P 500 lost 23.02 points or 0.52%, ending the day at 4,365.69. The Nasdaq Composite experienced a drop of 165.10 points or 1.21%, settling at 13,502.20.

Treasury Yields and Currency Performance:
While treasury yields initially rose in response to Powell’s hawkish tone, they ultimately remained relatively unchanged. Benchmark 10-year notes saw a marginal decrease of 0.2 basis points, settling at 3.725%, compared to 3.727% at the previous day’s close.

The Dollar Index experienced a brief surge following the release of Powell’s testimony but later saw a minor decline of 0.458%. The EUR/USD pair gained 0.62%, reaching 1.0985. On the other hand, USD/JPY declined by 0.3% to 141.805, primarily due to the Bank of Japan’s Governor Kazuo Ueda reiterating the central bank’s dovish stance, maintaining its ultra-loose monetary policy.

Inflation Concerns and GBP/USD Performance:
In the United Kingdom, GBP/USD experienced fluctuations after data revealed higher-than-expected inflation in May. British consumer price gains maintained an annual pace of 8.7%, suggesting a persistent inflation rate compared to other major economies. GBP/USD closed with a slight increase of 0.09% at 1.2774, recovering from a near one-week low of 1.2691 earlier in the trading session.

AUD/USD Recovery and RBA’s Dovish Sign:
AUD/USD managed to break a three-day losing streak, showing a 0.15% increase at 0.67975. The Australian dollar had weakened following the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) June policy meeting minutes, which lacked clarity on further rate hikes. Market participants interpreted this as a dovish signal from the RBA.

Crude Oil Prices Benefit from Dollar Decline:
Crude oil prices experienced gains as the value of the Dollar declined. Brent futures rose by $1.22 or 1.6%, closing at $77.12 per barrel, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures increased by $1.34 or 1.9%, ending the day at $72.53 per barrel. Both contracts reached two-week highs earlier in the trading session.

Gold and Silver React to Powell’s Testimony:
Following the release of Powell’s testimony, gold prices initially fell but later recovered some losses during the Q&A session. COMEX Gold futures reached a low of $1929.30 before settling at $1943.50 per ounce, reflecting a decline of $4.20 or 0.22% for the most active August contract. Spot gold closed at $1932.60 per ounce. Meanwhile, silver experienced a decline of 2.3% or $0.53, with the most active July contract closing at $22.70 per ounce.

Bitcoin Surges Above $30,000 on Institutional Interest and EDX Markets Launch:
Bitcoin extended its overnight gains, breaching the $30,000 mark for the first time since April. The surge was attributed to renewed interest from institutional investors, who view the cryptocurrency as a digital gold. Additionally, the launch of the EDX Markets crypto exchange, backed by Fidelity, Citadel Securities, and Charles Schwab, provided further impetus to Bitcoin’s upward trajectory. Although it reached a high of $30,755, Bitcoin retraced below the $30,000 mark during early Asian trading.

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