The markets kicked off a holiday-shortened trading week by celebrating the likely continuation of Jerome Powell as the Federal Reserve’s chair, but the party streamers ran out by the closing bell.
President Joe Biden did what pundits largely expected Monday, nominating Powell for another four-year term as the head of America’s central bank as it navigates a period of rising inflation. That sent a jolt through several areas of the market in the morning, most noticeably financials (+1.4%) and energy (+1.8%).
“Powell’s renomination removes a potential negative from the markets and provides the certainty that investors crave. Powell is sound, tested, respected and familiar to markets,” says George Ball, chairman of investment firm Sanders Morris Harris.
Looking ahead, BMO Capital Markets Senior Economist Jennifer Lee notes that “with the possibility of an even more dovish Fed Chair now off the table (Lael Brainard will be vice-chair), the possibility of a sooner Fed rate hike in 2022 has risen.”
However, all of the major indices turned tail late in the session, giving up most or all of their early gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average squeaked by with a marginal gain to 35,619. The S&P 500 — on pace to set a new record high for most of the day — lost 0.3% to 4,682, and the Nasdaq coughed up 1.3% to finish at 15,854.
The Nasdaq might have been even worse if not for strong performances from some of its mega-caps, including Tesla (TSLA), which finished up 1.7%. Indeed, the “FAANGs” and other very large Nasdaq stocks have been papering over difficult years for many of the composite’s smaller members.
Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, notes on Twitter that the average maximum year-to-date drawdown for Nasdaq components has reached 40%. And year-to-date, just 63% of the Nasdaq’s stocks are sitting on positive year-to-date returns, versus 83% of the S&P 500.
This report will be updated.
Kyle Woodley was long TSLA as of this writing.