On Monday, the three major US stock indexes experienced a lackluster performance, closing near the flatline as investors remained on edge, awaiting the FED’s forthcoming interest rate decision scheduled for Wednesday. Amidst this uncertainty, various factors influenced the market, including shifts in individual stock prices, developments in the housing market, and fluctuations in commodity prices, particularly platinum and neodymium. Additionally, the forex market displayed notable movements in various currencies. Let’s delve deeper into these developments.
The Fed’s Upcoming Interest Rate Decision
All eyes are on the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates. It is widely anticipated that US policymakers will maintain interest rates within the range of 5.25% to 5.5%. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, there is a 66% likelihood of another rate pause in November. This cautious approach by the central bank is indicative of their efforts to balance economic growth with inflation concerns.
Stock Market Performance
Tesla, the global electric vehicle giant, saw its shares decline by 3.3% following a revision of its 2023 and 2024 profit outlook by Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, Arm Holdings slid 4.5% after a strong market debut last week, closing about 25% higher. In contrast, Apple’s shares added 1.6% due to promising preorder news suggesting strong demand for iPhone 15 Pro handsets. The oil sector showed strength, with petroleum refiners Valero Energy and Marathon Petroleum gaining 1.7% and 1.6%, respectively, tracking higher oil prices.
Housing Market Index Decline
The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index in the United States experienced its second consecutive monthly decline, dropping to 45 in September 2023, the lowest in five months, from 50 in August. This decline was below forecasts of 50. The gauge for current single-family home sales decreased to 51 from 57, and the gauge for prospective buyers dropped 5 points to 30.
The sub-index for home sales over the next six months also decreased by 6 points to 49. This decline is attributed to high mortgage rates, which are affecting builder confidence and consumer demand. Policymakers are urged to implement measures that will increase housing supply and address affordability issues.
Platinum and Neodymium Prices
Platinum futures rebounded towards the $930 mark, recovering from a three-week low recorded on September 8th. This resurgence is attributed to stimulus measures in China, including a reduction in reserve requirements for local banks by the People’s Bank of China. Additionally, robust data from retail sales and industrial production in China boosted confidence in platinum demand. The World Platinum Investment Council’s latest quarterly report predicts a platinum market deficit of over a million ounces in 2023 due to a 27% year-on-year increase in demand and flat supply, demonstrating the resilience of industrial and investment demand.
Neodymium prices reached 642.5 thousand RMB per tonne, the highest in five months, driven by supply constraints. Mines in Myanmar’s Pangwa region, a significant source of rare earth minerals including neodymium, have been closed for inspection since September 6-7, with no clear reopening date. Furthermore, Malaysia plans to ban the export of rare earth raw materials, though the implementation date remains unspecified. China’s restrictions on the export of metals crucial to the semiconductor industry have raised concerns about potential limitations on the export of other critical minerals, including rare earths.
Currency Market Movements
In the currency market, the Brazilian Real, Russian Ruble, and South Korean Won emerged as top gainers, with gains ranging from 0.33% to 0.50%. Conversely, the Norwegian Krone, Mexican Peso, and Turkish Lira were the biggest losers, experiencing declines ranging from 0.38% to 0.42%.
As markets remain in a state of anticipation ahead of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision, various economic indicators and external factors are influencing investor sentiment. The housing market is showing signs of strain due to high mortgage rates. While commodities like platinum and neodymium are experiencing price fluctuations driven by supply constraints. Additionally, currency markets are exhibiting their own dynamics, with some currencies gaining ground while others face declines. In this environment of mixed economic signals, investors are carefully assessing their strategies and awaiting the Fed’s next move.