The major indexes spent most of the day bouncing around as investors awaited the mid-afternoon release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June policy-setting meeting, where the central bank issued its first 75 basis-point rate hike in nearly three decades. A basis point is one-one hundredth of a percentage point.
The meeting minutes revealed that another hefty rate hike is likely coming when the Fed meets later this month (July 26-27) as the central bank tries to tame red-hot inflation. Specifically, the minutes suggested that “an increase of 50 or 75 basis points would likely be appropriate at the next meeting.”
Additionally, the minutes indicated Fed officials believed the current economic outlook “warranted moving to a restrictive stance of policy,” while leaving the door open to “an even more restrictive stance” should high levels of inflation persist. Translated: ongoing rate cuts, larger rate cuts, more bond selling or some combination thereof.
“The Fed minutes’ primary message is, by now, what the parade of Fed since the last meeting have emphasized speakers that ‘more restrictive’ policy measures will be needed if inflationary pressures do not ease markedly,” says Jamie Cox, managing partner for Virginia-based Harris Financial Group. “Markets have received the message loud and clear.”
Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and fund recommendations, and other investing advice.
“What got my attention was the reference to a potential pause at year-end,” says Cliff Hodge, chief investment officer for North Carolina-based Cornerstone Wealth. “This is new, and extremely important. ‘Participants noted that, with the federal funds rate expected to be near or above estimates of its longer-run level later this year, the Committee would then be well positioned to determine the appropriate pace of further policy firming and the extent to which economic developments warranted policy adjustments.’ They were already thinking about where the appropriate level is to stop tightening policy in June, before the spate of economic data really deteriorated.”
Stocks continued to wobble immediately following the release of the Fed minutes before taking a confident turn higher. By the close, the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.4% at 11,361, the S&P 500 Index was 0.4% higher at 3,845 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had added 0.2% to end at 31,037.
And as the broader stock market gained ground, US crude futures continued to decline, sinking 1% to settle at $98.53 per barrel. This officially put crude oil futures into bear-market territory, with today’s closing price off 20.3% from their March 8 settlement high of $123.70 per barrel.
Other news in the stock market today:
- The small-cap Russell 2000 gave back 0.8% to end at 1,727.
- Gold futures fell for a seventh straight day, ending down 1.6% at $1,736.50 an ounce – their lowest settlement price since September 2021.
- Bitcoin slipped 0.5% to $20,300.63. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 pm)
- Uber (UBER, -4.5%) and DoorDash (DASH, -7.4%) were two notable decliners today following news that Amazon.com (AMZN, +0.7%) struck a deal with food delivery firm GrubHub. As part of the partnership, AMZN will offer Prime Members a one-year membership to GrubHub that includes $0 delivery fees. Additionally, the e-commerce giant will have the option to take a 2% stake in GrubHub, which is owned by European food company Just Eat Takeaway.com. “We believe the announcement has not possible implications for the competitive landscape of the food delivery space, as the transaction essentially creates a more relevant #3 player after years of market share loss by Grubhub,” says CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino. “Grubhub will have the ability to take advantage of Amazon’s large Prime base, which should drive upside to volume at a time when pandemic tailwinds are waning.” Zino believes DASH will be more impacted by the deal “given its US dominant revenue exposure and share gain benefits in recent years.”
- Rocket Companies (RKT) jumped 4.5% after Wells Fargo analyst Donald Fandetti upgraded the fintech stock to Overweight from Equal Weight (the equivalents of Buy and Hold, respectively). “While the residential market remains extremely challenging, we see RKT as a beneficiary of the dislocation, and interest rate expectations seem to have less upside tail risk,” Fandetti says. And following RKT’s nearly 40% year-to-date decline, the analyst believes there is a “better risk/reward for the stock in a sector where negative sentiment may have peaked.”
Don’t Count Out Growth Stocks, But Be Choosy
Could growth stocks finally be ready for their day in the sun? Possibly, suggests Carl Ludwigson, managing director at investment firm Bel Air Investment Advisors.
“Generally, an economic slowdown implies a scarcity of growth and declining inflation as demand decreases,” Ludwigson says. “This lower growth and lower inflation environment should favor quality growth stocks that tend to be less cyclical than value stocks.”
But not all economic cycles are equal – and even with the recent correction, many large-cap growth stocks remain expensive relative to historical valuations. As such, Ludwigson points to growth at a reasonable price (GARP) as one way for investors to position for a slowdown. GARP stocks are investing’s version of having your cake and eating it, too, providing portfolios with both growth prospects and valuations that are attractive.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best GARP stocks to buy now. The names featured here are expected to deliver double-digit earnings growth over the next year and are reasonably priced to boot.
Karee Venema was long AMZN as of this writing.