Stocks tumbled on Wednesday as the Federal Reserve continued hiking rates, while at the same time acknowledging turmoil in the banking sector could slow the already fragile economy. Regional bank shares led the slide.
Adding to the stock market's decline and the drop in regional bank shares were comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who told the U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee that the U.S. was not currently working on "blanket insurance" for bank deposits.
At one point, the Dow was up as much as 201.29 points before turning lower. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained 0.9% and 1.3%, respectively, at their session highs.
"Financial conditions seem to have tightened," Fed Chair Jerome Powell noted. "We'll be looking to see how serious is this and does it look like it's going to be sustained. And if it is, it could easily have a significant macroeconomic effect, and we would factor that into our policy decisions," he added.
The Fed raised rates by 25 basis points, as was widely expected. In a statement, the Fed's policymaking committee said it "will closely monitor incoming information and assess the implications for monetary policy." Additionally, the central bank removed the phrase "ongoing increases" from its statement.
On the bullish side, the latest Fed projections called for just one more hike this year. But, Powell said in the news conference that the inflation fight is far from over.
"The Fed's actions today are consistent with our long-held view that the Fed will raise rates to 5.125% and pause for an extended period," Jefferies economist Thomas Simons said in a note. "Barring an increase in contagion risk within the banking sector, we expect that the Fed will be faced with a very similar policy decision in May, and they will be compelled to deliver another hike."
The Fed's rate hike comes amid uncertainty over the health of the global banking sector. Earlier this month, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsed, while UBS acquired rival Credit Suisse — a move forced by Swiss regulators to shore up the country's banking industry.
Regional bank shares declined on Wednesday following the rate hike announcement and Yellen's statement that the Treasury is not considering a broad increase in deposit insurance. The S&P Regional Bank ETF (KRE) ended Wednesday's trading session more than 5% lower.
Meanwhile, Powell noted that bank deposit flows had stabilized over the last week after the central bank and regulators moved to backstop depositors.
To be sure, he also said: "I think for now, though … we see the likelihood of credit tightening. We know that that can have an effect on the macro economy."
Yellen says not considering blanket insurance' for deposits
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday that the FDIC was not considering providing "blanket insurance" for banking deposits, according to Reuters. Yellen made the remarks at a hearing of a U.S. Senate appropriations subcommittee.
Yellen said the administration was not considering expanding bank deposit guarantees beyond the current limit of $250,000, Reuters reported. Some investors was hoping such an expansion would help prevent the crisis from spreading further.
— Yun Li
Financial conditions have tightened more than the market shows, Powell says
Financial conditions seem to have tightened more than the U.S. benchmark indexes indicate, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during Wednesday's press conference.
"The traditional indexes are focused a lot on rates and equities, and they don't necessarily capture lending conditions," Powell said when asked what financial situation would warrant an interest rate cut, especially if credit conditions were to further tighten. Concerns of a credit crunch, which occurs when banks significantly tighten their lending standards, have grown amid the banking crisis.
If tighter lending conditions are sustained, Powell acknowledged that could easily have a significant macroeconomic impact which would be factored into the Fed's policy decisions.
"The question for us though is how significant will that be and what would be the extent of it and what would be the duration of it," he said, adding that "rate cuts are not in our base case."
— Pia Singh
Bank crisis may have kept market from retesting lows, TradeStation vice president says
The banking crisis has helped the Fed move away from aggressive rate hikes, said David Russell, vice president of market intelligence at TradeStation. And he said that's aided the stock market.
"Nobody would have expected this a few weeks ago, but the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse may have saved the stock market from retesting the lows," he said.
In all, Russell called the language from the Fed helpful to the sentiment among investors.
"Bank runs have done the Fed's job for it," he said. "The Fed acknowledged off the bat how credit conditions have tightened, which could reduce inflation. They also toned back the commitment to aggressive rate hikes. This is a net positive for sentiment because it puts the Fed back in wait-and-see mode instead of an all-out tightening campaign."
— Alex Harring
Despite Fed's hint at a pivot, rate cuts may not come anytime soon, says Morgan Stanley's Loewengart
The Fed hinted at a pivot on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean investors are out of the woods when it comes to rate hikes, according to Mike Loewengart, head of model portfolio construction at Morgan Stanley Global Investment.
"Market watchers could interpret today's rate bump as support for the Fed viewing recent bank woes as idiosyncratic, which is a good thing for those worrying about systemic cracks in the system," he said.
"Further, the Fed hinted a pivot may be coming soon, so another piece of good news for investors to chew on," he added. "But keep in mind that this doesn't mean rate cuts are coming anytime soon, and the Fed has hinted it will do whatever it takes to get inflation back near 2%. So even if the Fed stops at 10 hikes, volatility is likely to remain the name of the game."
— Tanaya Macheel
Megacap tech stocks rise as yields fall
Megacap tech stocks rose Wednesday as rates declined and the Federal Reserve implemented a 25 basis point hike.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite traded 0.4% higher, led by Meta Platforms, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, up least 1% each. Nvidia jumped 4%. These stocks have benefitted in recent weeks from a downtick in yields, with higher rates tending to make future profits appear less valuable.
The yield on the 2-year Treasury note last traded 18 basis points lower at 3.998%.
— Samantha Subin
Markets 'responding well' to latest hike, says LPL Financial's Krosby
Another rate hike may be ahead for, but markets appear to be taking the latest rate hike in stride, said LPL Financial's Quincy Krosby.
"Markets are responding well to the expected 25 basis points rate hike coupled with the statement that the banking system remains strong," said the chief global strategist.
She expects another 25 basis point rate hike in May followed by rate hikes kicking off in the summer.
— Samantha Subin
Fed raises interest rates 25 basis points
The Federal Reserve hiked its benchmark interest rate by another 25 basis points, in line with Wall Street's predictions.
This marks the central bank's ninth hike since it began raising rates in March 2022, as well as its first announcement following the recent fallout in the banking sector. The increase takes the benchmark federal funds rate to a target range between 4.75%-5%.
The Federal Open Market Committee said in a post-meeting statement that it "will closely monitor incoming information and assess the implications for monetary policy." Fed projections call for just one more hike this year.
— Hakyung Kim
The Fed is 'trying to let the market have its cake and eat it too,' says CRFA Research's Sam Stovall
CFRA Research's chief investment strategist Sam Stovall anticipates the Fed will announce a few more rate hikes this year, before pausing its aggressive monetary policy tightening measures.
"We're still saying that the Fed regards inflation as their prime directive. And as a result, we'll probably raise rates, at least one more time, if not, in both May and June. But then we see them hitting the pause button," said Stovall.
"We think [Powell's] going to say that he has to he has to continue to strangle inflation, but at the same time, continue to provide liquidity and backstop banks, should there be any challenges. So he's trying to let the market have its cake and eat it too — fighting inflation but not being blind to the whole thing contagion issue," he continued.
The investment strategist added that he believes much of the banking crisis is now contained.
To be sure, Stovall said that "there could be a few more regional banks out there that proved to have problems."
"But because the Fed has essentially said, you know, we're going to backstop all depositors that I think that has allowed investors to feel more, more confident that this crisis probably has run its course," added Stovall.
— Hakyung Kim
Carvana shares zoom higher
The company said it expects a loss for the period ranging between $50 million and $100 million. That marks a stark improvement from the $348 million loss it reported a year earlier.
Carvana also said it would give noteholders the option to exchange their unsecured notes at a premium to current trading prices in exchange for new secured notes.
— Samantha Subin, Michael Wayland
Information technology is the best-performing sector heading into Fed decision
To no surprise, information technology is the top-performing S&P 500 sector ahead of the Federal Reserve's anticipated 25 basis point hike, and last up about 0.5%.
Tech stocks in particular have been on a tear in recent weeks as bond yields dive lower as investors flock to safer assets like bond. The growth-focused suffers in higher-rate environments, which hurt valuations and choke off once easy access to capital.
Shares of Microsoft led the sector's gains, up 1%. Apple, Oracle and a slew of chip stocks also pushed higher. Nvidia jumped 2.6% on the back of its latest developers conference. Megacaps Alphabet, Meta Platforms and Salesforce rose slightly
— Samantha Subin
Stock market in the green since banking crisis hit
The S&P 500 is actually higher than it was the day before Silicon Valley Bank's troubles sent the banking sector tumbling.
The index is up 0.3% from the March 8 close through Tuesday's close, compared to the roughly 20% loss suffered by the the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF during that same time frame.
"All of those things in another time, in a weaker market environment, would have pushed us much lower than we have seen," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth Management.
To see what experts think is happening and why, read the full CNBC Pro story here.
— Michelle Fox
Nvidia, Nike among stocks moving the most midday
These are some of the stocks making the biggest moves during midday trading:
GameStop – The meme stock surged about 36% after the gaming retailer posted a quarterly profit for the first time in two years, and it reported a drop in inventory levels and costs from a year earlier. GameStop has not provided financial guidance since the early days of the pandemic.
Nike — Shares of the sportswear retailer fell 2% even after the company easily beat Wall Street's estimates for its holiday quarter earnings and revenue. Nike, which has been contending with a glut of inventory and weak China sales, said it is taking a "cautious approach" to planning, given worries about the consumer and the economy.
Read the full list of stocks moving midday here.
— Samantha Subin
Real estate leads stocks down ahead of the Fed meeting
Investors were pulling back on real estate holdings ahead of this afternoon's Fed meeting.
Despite the S&P 500 index trading down just 0.2%, real estate stocks within the index were down the most of the index's 11 sectors with a 1.7% drop. Boston Properties and Host Hotels & Resorts weighed on the sector as each slid more than 3%.
In all, nine sectors were trading below their respective flatlines. Consumer staples and information technology were able to buck the trend, advancing 0.2% and 0.5%, respectively.
— Alex Harring
Cryptocurrencies rise ahead of Federal Reserve rate decision
Bitcoin hit a high of $28,790 on Wednesday, continuing the recent rally in cryptocurrency prices as investors awaited the conclusion of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting this afternoon. That level is the highest since June 11, 2022, when bitcoin traded as high as $29,405, according to Coin Metrics. Ether also gained 0.7% to $1,813.52.
Shares of crypto exchange Coinbase Global were earlier up 0.4%, on pace for its 8th straight positive day after the stock has gained 37% so far this month. It recently edged lower, down by 0.2%, to $83.80. The rally marks a reversal from Coinbase's underperformance throughout 2022, when its shares dropped 86%.
— Pia Singh
Fed could keep inflation on inflation, portfolio manager says
Don't be surprised if the Fed keeps its focus on inflation in today's statement despite the recent issues in the banking sector, according to John Luke Tyner, portfolio manager and fixed income analyst at Aptus Capital Advisors.
"I think that they'll want to speak with a little more hawkish tone than just the need for higher for longer, which I think could flat-foot the market a bit," Tyner said.
The Fed could signal that it will continue to use the balance sheet to deal with any banking sector issues while using rates to fight inflation, Tyner said.
"The last thing that they want to do right now is give back all of the progress they've made in the last year in honing in on inflation," he added.
— Jesse Pound
Barclays upgrades Nike shares to overweight
Barclays Analyst Adrienne Yih upgraded Nike shares to overweight from equal weight, and raised her price target, saying the strength of Nike's latest earnings results show the sports apparel retailer is getting back to its long-term targets — despite some weakness in China.
"NKE's FY3Q23 significant beat on sales of $12.4B (consensus $11.5B) and EPS of $0.79 (consensus of $0.54) is evidence of broad-based brand strength, in spite of a weakening consumer macro backdrop," Yih said to clients in a Wednesday note. "Sales upside was across both DTC and Wholesale and all geographies led by NA, except China."
CNBC Pro subscribers can read the full story here.
— Sarah Min
CNBC Pro: Nvidia’s ‘dominant A.I. leadership’ is clear after GTC developer conference, Wall Street analysts say
Wall Street analysts walked away from Nvidia's developer conference with more confidence in the computing firm's dominant leadership in artificial intelligence.
Nvidia unveiled a slew of new products and partnerships at its GTC conference on Tuesday that gave analysts confidence in the chipmaker's growing AI capabilities. The firm unveiled CUDA Quantum, a platform for developers to build quantum algorithms.
Investors piled into Nvidia shares this year as they sought ways to play the growing AI trend. Nvidia shares are 79% higher in 2023 after plunging 50% last year.
Bank of America's Vivek Arya reiterated a buy rating on Nvidia, and raised his price target, saying Nvidia's AI capabilities only expands its total addressable market. While citing Nvidia's partnerships with Microsoft, Amazon, Google and others, Arya said Nvidia's dominance in the generative AI and the large language model market could "reshape the existing tech industry."
CNBC Pro subscribers can read on for more analyst takes on Nvidia here.
— Sarah Min
CNBC Pro: Meta shares could rise nearly 20%, KeyBanc says
It's time to buy Meta shares ahead of an advertising market recovery, KeyBanc said.
Analyst Justin Patterson upgraded shares to overweight, saying the social media stock is among a handful of platform and advertising tech companies set to rally on the back of a more stable market.
"Our view is that companies with product cycles ... and a combination of expense discipline/operational improvement/controversy (META, GOOGL, PINS) stand best positioned to benefit from an eventual recovery," Patterson wrote to clients on Tuesday.
CNBC Pro subscribers can read the full story here.
— Sarah Min
Barclays cuts expected upside for Charles Schwab, citing 'earnings power' concerns
Barclays lowered its price target on Charles Schwab shares to $61 from $79, implying only 2.57% upside for shares. The downward revision comes following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and other fallout in the financial sector in recent weeks.
"We think ongoing cash outflows will result in a meaningful need for short-term financing and will prevent the company from being able to recycle maturing assets into higher-yielding securities (though we continue to expect ongoing healthy NNA growth). Our primary concern, importantly, is earnings power, not liquidity," analyst Benjamin Budish wrote in a Wednesday note.
"The past several monthly updates from Schwab have indicated ongoing cash declines, which worsened in January and February," Budish continued.
"We believe that absent a material change in the rate trajectory, cash sorting is likely to continue through 3Q23, which the company can fund from a variety of sources, including cash on hand, short-term debt, retail CDs, operating cash flows, and asset sales," Budish continued.
Charles Schwab shares were down 0.29% following the downgrade. Shares gained almost 6% during Tuesday's session as they come off a period of volatility following the collapse of SVB. The stock is down 28.5% year-to-date.
— Hakyung Kim
Lloyd Blankfein on Fed rate decision Wednesday
Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said he personally wouldn't raise interest rates Wednesday if he were the Federal Reserve.
"Personally, I wouldn't do it. Part of me thinks they won't do it,"Blankfein said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "There's not much difference between a hawkish pause and a dovish 25 basis point raise. It's all in the rhetoric that follows."
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 pm ET following the central bank's rate decision.
— Yun Li