Unexpectedly Intriguing!
August 14, 2017

The U.S. stock market has been on what we've described as a boring trend over the last several weeks, even as it has hovered near records highs.

That chain of boredom was broken with the S&P 500 in Week 2 of August 2017, when stock prices hovered at its high level just a few days longer than our dividend futures-based model suggested it could, where it found itself in a scenario similar to that of Wile E Coyote after having run off the edge of a desert cliff, hanging in open space until he looks down....

Metaphorically speaking, and from a behavioral finance standpoint, that's pretty much exactly what happened on Thursday, 10 August 2017.

Alternative Futures - S&P 500 - 2017Q3 - Standard Model - Snapshot on 11 August 2017

Fortunately, stock prices didn't have far to fall. We can however confirm that investors would appear to have locked their focus upon the distant future quarter of 2018-Q2, which matches not only what our dividend futures model is telling us, it also matches what the CME Group's FedWatch tool is telling us. Mike Shedlock has snapshots of what the FedWatch tool is communicating, but here is the short summary of the probabilities for what investors are expecting for the timing of the Fed's next change in short term U.S. interest rates after last week.

  • 2017-Q3 (20 September 2017)
    • Decrease to 75-100 bps: 4.1%
    • Unchanged at 100-125 bps: 95.9%
  • 2017-Q4 (13 December 2017)
    • Decrease to 75-100 bps: 2.6%
    • Unchanged at 100-125 bps: 61.5%
    • Increase to 125-150 bps: 35.2%
    • Increase to 150-175 bps: 0.7%
  • 2018-Q1 (21 March 2018)
    • Decrease to 75-100 bps: 2.2%
    • Unchanged at 100-125 bps: 52.7%
    • Increase to 125-150 bps: 39.1%
    • Increase to 150-175 bps: 5.9%
    • Increase to 175-200 bps: 0.2%
  • 2018-Q2 (13 June 2018) (Now Most Likely Quarter for Change in Federal Funds Rate)
    • Decrease to 75-100 bps: 1.7%
    • Unchanged at 100-125 bps: 41.3%
    • Increase to 125-150 bps: 41.8%
    • Increase to 150-175 bps: 13.5%
    • Increase to 175-200 bps: 1.7%
    • Increase to 200-225 bps: 0.1%

2018-Q2 is when the combined odds of the Fed hiking its Federal Funds Rate above its current range of 100-125 basis points (1.00 to 1.25%) finally exceeds 50%, where that action is not expected until the Fed's 13 June 2018 meeting.

The headlines for the week in the markets had a good amount of noise in them, particularly related to North Korea, which really says more about the media's interests than what's motivating the markets.

Monday, 7 August 2017
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Wednesday, 9 August 2017
Thursday, 10 August 2017
Friday, 11 August 2017

Elsewhere, Barry Ritholtz summarized the positives and negatives for the U.S. economy and markets for the week that was.

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