The Fed Drained $20 Billion From Its Balance Sheet

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Wall Street continues to ignore the fact that the Federal Reserve is tightening monetary policy by allowing its balance sheet to unwind. For the week ended April 3, the balance sheet is $20 billion lower than it was the week before. The balance sheet is now marked at $3.936 trillion, down $564 billion from the $4.5 trillion peak at the end of September 2007.


My call remains that the Fed will leave the federal funds rate at 2.25% to 2.50% through 2019 and potentially until the end of 2020 after the presidential election. The Fed will continue to drain the balance sheet through September 2019, but when it reaches that point, it will equate to a pause, not an end to quantitative tightening.


Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve balance sheet strategy


The Federal Reserve will stop the unwinding at the end of September 2019. The Fed has set an unwinding schedule of $50 billion in April and then $35 billion for each of the next five months through September. This will be an additional $225 billion in Fed tightening. This will take the balance sheet down to $3.731 trillion, which will not meet Chairman Powell’s stated goal of a $3.5 trillion balance sheet. The additional $231 billion will likely be scheduled after the 2020 election.


Daily chart for the yield on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note


Refinitiv XENITH

The daily chart for the yield on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note shows that this yield appears to be rising again since trading as low as 2.34% on March 28. The yield closed last week at 2.499%, with my pivot for this week at 2.508%. I show monthly, semiannual and quarterly value levels at 2.576%, 2.605% and 2.759%, respectively.


Weekly chart for the yield on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note


Refinitiv XENITH

The weekly chart for the yield on the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Note shows that the decline in yields began from a high yield of 3.26% set during the week Oct. 12 as the stock market peaked. This yield held its 200-week simple moving average, or “reversion to the mean,” at 2.356% during the week of March 29. The note is below its five-week modified moving average at 2.563%. The 12 x 3 x 3 weekly slow stochastic reading is projected to rise to 24.31 this week, up from 21.30 on April 5. 


Daily chart for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)


Refinitiv XENITH

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), also known as Spiders, closed Friday, April 5, at $288.62, 23.5% above its Dec. 26 low of $233.76 and just 1.8% below its all-time intraday high of $293.94 set on Sept. 21. My monthly and semiannual value levels are $272.17 and $266.14, respectively, with my annual pivot at $285.86 and weekly and quarterly risky levels of $292.03 and $297.56, respectively.


Weekly chart for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)


Refinitiv XENITH

The weekly chart for Spiders is positive but overbought, with the ETF above its five-week modified moving average at $280.79 and above its 200-week simple moving average, or “reversion to the mean,” at $239.67 after this average held at $234.71 during the week of Dec. 28. The 12 x 3 x 3 weekly slow stochastic reading is projected to rise to 92.58 this week, up from 90.70 on April 5 and moving further above the overbought threshold of 80.00. SPY is now in an “inflating parabolic bubble” condition with a reading above 90.00.


How to use my value levels and risky levels: Value levels and risky levels are based upon the last nine weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannual and annual closes. The first set of levels was based upon the closes on Dec. 31. The original semiannual and annual levels remain in play. The weekly level changes each week; the monthly level was changed at the end of January, February and March. The quarterly level was changed at the end of March.


My theory is that nine years of volatility between closes are enough to assume that all possible bullish or bearish events for the stock are factored in. To capture share price volatility, investors should buy shares on weakness to a value level and reduce holdings on strength to a risky level. A pivot is a value level or risky level that was violated within its time horizon. Pivots act as magnets that have a high probability of being tested again before their time horizon expires.


How to use 12 x 3 x 3 weekly slow stochastic readings: My choice of using 12 x 3 x 3 weekly slow stochastic readings was based upon backtesting many methods of reading share-price momentum with the objective of finding the combination that resulted in the fewest false signals. I did this following the stock market crash of 1987, so I have been happy with the results for more than 30 years.


The stochastic reading covers the last 12 weeks of highs, lows and closes for the stock. There is a raw calculation of the differences between the highest high and lowest low versus the closes. These levels are modified to a fast reading and a slow reading, and I found that the slow reading worked the best.


The stochastic reading scales between 00.00 and 100.00, with readings above 80.00 considered overbought and readings below 20.00 considered oversold. Recently, I noted that stocks tend to peak and decline 10% to 20% and more shortly after a reading rises above 90.00, so I call that an “inflating parabolic bubble,” as a bubble always pops. I also refer to a reading below 10.00 as “too cheap to ignore.”


Disclosure: The author has no positions in any securities mentioned and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.




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