If investors were hoping that the minutes from the last Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting would give stocks some direction on Wednesday, they got their wish. Unfortunately, the minutes appear to be dragging stocks down.
The S&P 500 was slightly above its opening level at 2 pm, then moved straight down as soon as the minutes were released. It was last spotted at 1, 334, down 7 points or 0.5 per cent, about 30 minutes after the release.
The minutes from the Fed's June meeting were seen by many observers as providing an early glimpse into what the central bank thinks about introducing an aggressive round of stimulus – following a bad streak of disappointing economic news, highlighted by Friday's dismal payrolls report for June.
The Fed minutes seem to have met expectations in some ways. The minutes read: "A few members expressed the view that further policy stimulus likely would be necessary to promote satisfactory growth in employment and to ensure that the inflation rate would be at the Committee's goal."
So why are investors disappointed ? Here are a few early thoughts.
Peter Buchanan, CIBC World Markets: "While a few FOMC members thought further stimulus would likely be needed, a few as before saw accommodation as posing inflation risks. On balance, the minutes do not on the surface suggest a sizeable body of support for further immediate action, although it should be borne in mind that the comments were made prior to recent data disappointments, including another sub-100 payrolls print in June."
Steven Ricchiuto, Mizuho Securities: "The details of the Fed's deliberations were a disappointment for all those who are calling for QE3 in order to boost the equity markets. Although a few members were calling for more accommodation, there was no sign that they were rushing to pull the trigger. Moreover, the committee seems to be looking for alternative means to stimulate the economy, further reducing the risk of QE3."
Jennifer Lee, BMO Nesbitt Burns: "It doesn't appear that the FOMC is ready to pull the trigger on QE just yet and equity markets aren't liking that."