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PETALING JAYA: As the US Federal Reserve (Fed) prepares for it final Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting today and tomorrow, local investors and market enthusiasts are waiting to see if the central bank has turned dovish as widely expected, which in turn would affect the FBM KLCI.
Consensus is indicating that while it may be too soon for the Fed to pivot on its tightening policy this month or in the first half of 2023, the market has priced in a deceleration in the size of the rate hikes to 50 basis points (bps) after the three quarters of a point increases it carried out on its meetings in June, July, September and most recently last month.
Some equity analysts are of the opinion that inflation data from the United States, as well as subsequent comments from Fed chair Jerome Powell, will affect markets globally besides the rate hikes.
“The inflation data will need to show more signs of progress and also the subsequent guidance of the Fed upon the decision this week. Powell also mentioned the ‘terminal rate,’ or point at which the Fed stops raising, likely ‘will need to be somewhat higher’ than indicated at the September meeting,” Tradeview Capital Sdn Bhd fund manager Nixon Wong said.
That could mean the Fed rates may end up with the terminal rate in excess of 5%, from its current target range of 3.75% to 4%.
“Should the Fed sound hawkish that is likely to put pressure in markets overall, especially on growth stocks, with investors drawing higher possibilities for a global recession to happen next year.,
“However, if the Fed delivers dovish guidance, implying rate hikes may end sooner, global markets may end the December month on a positive note,” Wong pointed out.
He said the growth outlook for Malaysia is more positive compared with developed markets despite the global headwinds.
One remaining hurdle in terms of political uncertainty would be the confidence vote in Parliament on Dec 19 for new Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to cement his mandate to lead the country.
“Should the outcome of that Parliamentary event next week be positive, it may spur a strong closing of the FBM KLCI for the year,” he said.
Affin Hwang Investment Bank (AHIB) Research, on the other hand, said the outlook in 2023 would be challenging, despite agreeing that there are various reasons to be hopeful for the year ahead.
The research house said the equity pullback so far this year has resulted in attractive valuations globally, with markets appearing to have priced in much of the negative factors such as high inflation and interest rates, as well as slowing economic growth.
“Market sentiment is also buoyed by expectations that the Fed would start to pivot on its interest rates in late 2023, judging by the latest dot plot matrix and especially if the United States slips into a recession,” AHIB Research noted.,
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