If economic data along with the Fed can be used as a guide, there no reason to see global stock markets retreat to any appreciable degree going forward. Therefore, expect to see markets continue to rally over the third and fourth quarters.
The Fed has basically raised its assessment of the economy, noting in the latest statement that “economic activity is leveling out.” Inflation figures to remain “subdued for some time” and policy makers reassured the market that rates will not rise for an “extended period,” a sign that policymakers are in no rush to end their efforts to boost the economy. Language slightly less optimistic helped stocks rally over 12% since the previous meeting on June 24.
German and French GDP rose 0.3% in the second quarter which helped limit the overall European contraction by just 0.1% over the period, an indication that much like the U.S., the worst recession in the post-war period has just about ended and that economic expansion will occur over the third and fourth quarters of 2010. The ECB is likely to remain cautious however, and looks to continue its program of offering banks unlimited amounts of cash while keeping borrowing costs at record lows.
The Libor-OIS spread, the premium banks charge over the expected daily Fed Funds rate, narrowed to 25 basis points overnight, a level that former Fed Chairman Allan Greenspan labeled as “normal.” And while the banks still remain reluctant to lend, cash has been and likely will remain readily available in the capital markets. High grade U.S. companies sold $898 billion of bonds this year, the busiest period since at least 1999 according to Bloomberg, while European firms have issued a record $1.2 trillion this year, more than was sold in all of 2007. Ten year investment grade spreads, the difference between corporate borrowing costs over risk-free Treasuries, narrowed from 603 basis points down to just 254. Liquidity has been just as available in the high-risk markets; non-investment grade firms have sold at least $19.8 billion of debt this week and sales this year total about $858 billion compared with $648 billion during the same period last year.
Emerging-market stocks increased by the most in almost two weeks on Thursday after the Fed’s statement reassured investors there. The DJ Stoxx 600, a European index, gained 1.6% heading into the N.Y. open.
The dollar will likely continue declining against the euro, pound and A$ as those currencies resume their months-long rally against the yen. Commodities will remain strong while government debt prices decline. Expect to see the normal in and out breathing along the way, but just ignore it for the time being. Cash is likely to come into the market as investors grow even more fearful of missing the rally and give up waiting for a significant retracement.