Eyes on Europe and the Fed

September 19, 2011 — Leave a comment

Weekly Update – September 19, 2011

U.S. stocks posted solid performance Friday to wrap up a five-day winning streak for the first time since July. The Dow and the S&P 500 were each up around 5% for the week, while the NASDAQ climbed 6.3% for the week. The five-day move was the best we’ve seen in two years.

Stocks rallied Thursday after the European Central Bank announced a coordinated action with other central banks and the U.S. Federal Reserve to offer banks easier access to dollar loans. That move, combined with comments from French and German leaders expressing confidence in Greece’s place in the euro-zone, helped propel the market’s performance last week.ii It is likely that comments from European leaders and bankers will continue to drive investor sentiment as the debt crises in Europe continues.

It is against the backdrop of European woes and a softening U.S. economy that the Fed will hold its policy-setting meeting Tuesday and Wednesday. The Federal Open Market Committee expanded its meeting from one to two days, which some investors have taken as a signal that action will be taken, though what that action will be is not clear.

One suggestion is that the Fed will try to pump money into the economy by purchasing bonds through a third round of quantitative easing, known as QE3. But this modified version of QE3, coined Operation Twist, would involve trying to boost lending by swapping out short-term bonds with long-term ones. The intended outcome of this swap would be to lower long-term interest rates without increasing the size of the Fed’s balance sheet. At this point though, we can only speculate about what the Fed will do.

In the week ahead, eyes will be focused on Europe and the Federal Reserve as they work to keep money flowing around the world.

  • Monday – Housing Market Index
  • Tuesday – Housing Starts, FOMC Meeting Announcement
  • Wednesday – Existing Home Sales, EIA Petroleum Status Report
  • Thursday – Jobless Claims

President Barack Obama said on Saturday that Americans need to be ready to “pay their fair share” to narrow the deficit, previewing his proposals to Congress that are expected to include more taxes on the rich. On Monday, the President will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.

Wall Street was cordoned off for a second consecutive day Sunday as about 300 to 400 people remained near Chase Manhattan Plaza for a protest dubbed “Occupy Wall Street.” A smaller group, followed by a column of police motorcycles, marched uptown on Broadway as people beat drums, strummed guitars, and held up signs reading “end corporate welfare” and “we are too big to fail.”

With Europe’s credit and banking crisis seeming to get worse by the day, there are now several reports that Brazil – as well as Russia, India, and China – may look to buy up a portion of sovereign debt from troubled European nations. The creation of a so-called euro bond, which would act as a common debt instrument much like the euro now acts as a unified currency, has been mentioned by many economists and financial experts as a possible way to help end the crisis.

There isn’t a person anywhere who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can. –Henry Ford

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