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Wall Street Retreats on Inflation Fears and Fed Rate Cut Hopes Dampened

Market Update - Daniel Ang The Accidental Trader Traders Academy International 2

Wall Street ended its winning streak due to unexpected high producer prices in January, hinting at inflation fears and reducing hopes for imminent Fed rate cuts. Major indices like the S&P 500, Nasdaq, and Dow fell. The Dollar strengthened against major currencies, while commodities and cryptocurrencies saw mixed movements. Investors await the Fed meeting minutes for future monetary policy clues.

U.S. Equity Markets

The U.S. markets were closed on Monday in observance of the Presidents’ Day holiday, taking a pause after last Friday’s downturn. Wall Street ended its five-week winning streak with the Nasdaq leading the decline, primarily driven by a hotter-than-expected Producer Prices Index (PPI) for January. This surge in producer prices dampened the previously hopeful sentiment for imminent Federal Reserve interest rate cuts, as it suggested a potential uptick in inflation following months of moderation. The major indices recorded weekly losses:

  • The S&P 500 fell by 0.49%, closing at 5,005.15 points.
  • The Nasdaq Composite dropped by 0.83%, ending at 15,775.65 points.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased by 0.39%, concluding at 38,623.64 points.

Foreign Exchange Markets

The Dollar exhibited strength, inching higher for the fifth consecutive week, buoyed by the strong inflation data. The Dollar Index rose by 0.13% to 104.35. In currency pairs, the USD/JPY slipped by 0.1% to 150.08 amidst speculation of potential intervention by Japanese authorities to support the yen. The EUR/USD declined by 0.12% to 1.0763, while GBP/USD remained steady at 1.2595.

Commodities Market

Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude showed mixed movements amidst holiday-thinned trading. Brent futures gained slightly, settling at $83.56 a barrel, whereas WTI for March delivery rose to $79.49 a barrel. The April delivery for WTI, however, saw a slight decrease. The fluctuations in oil prices reflect ongoing supply concerns from Middle East tensions counterbalanced by weakening demand signals. In precious metals, gold prices saw a recovery, with COMEX April futures trading at $2,028.30/oz, benefiting from the thin trading volume. Silver, however, faced significant selling pressure, falling below the $23.50/oz mark.

Cryptocurrency Market

The digital assets space experienced a record inflow of $2.45 billion in the week ending February 17, with Bitcoin appreciating above the $52K mark, thereby boosting assets under management (AUM) to levels seen in December 2021. The influx was predominantly from U.S. BTC ETFs, reflecting growing investor interest in the cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin (BTC/USD) traded at $51,817 in the Asian session.

Looking Ahead

Investors are eagerly anticipating the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting, expected to be a significant event this week. The minutes, due tonight at 0300am Thursday SGT, could provide critical insights into the Fed’s monetary policy outlook and its assessment of the economic landscape, particularly in light of recent inflationary pressures.


The financial markets are navigating through a complex landscape marked by inflation concerns, geopolitical tensions, and evolving policy environments. Investors and traders should remain vigilant, closely monitoring upcoming economic releases and central bank communications for further cues on market direction. The current environment underscores the importance of staying informed and adaptable to swiftly changing market conditions.

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