Federal Reserve

Fed: Investors taking market volatility 'in stride'

Key Points
  • "Many participants reported that their contacts had taken the previous month's turbulence in stride," the Fed's meeting minutes released Wednesday said.
  • Fed officials blamed rising inflation and valuations for the market's 10 percent correction this year.
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Along with pretty much all of Wall Street, Federal Reserve officials have been watching stock market volatility with a careful eye.

Their conclusion, at least so far: it's not been much of a big deal.

Minutes from the Fed's March meeting indicate that central bankers believe concerns about rising inflation and valuations provided an early February jolt that sent the market into a 10 percent correction.

However, in talking to field contacts, it seems the psychological damage was minimal.

"Many participants reported that their contacts had taken the previous month's turbulence in stride, although a few participants suggested that financial developments over the intermeeting period highlighted some downside risks associated with still-high valuations for equities or from market volatility more generally," the meeting summary said.

The market has continued to be on an up-and-down trajectory since the early February upset, briefly entering another corrective phase amid worries over a potential trade war between the U.S. and China.

The Fed minutes addressed mainly the initial plunge when January inflation numbers were higher than expected and average hourly earnings also posted a surprise jump.

Officials also noted the collapse of low-volatility trades that had been highly profitable before the correction.

"Some reports suggested that the increase in volatility was amplified by the unwinding of trading positions based on various types of volatility trading strategies," the minutes said.

Finally, they also noted that there was market concern over the economy being allowed to run hot while the Fed continued to remain dovish. That could "pose risks to financial stability," the minutes said.

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