18 September, 2007

Buyers flock into the Markets as Fed Cuts Rates by 50 Basis Points

The moment the markets were waiting for arrived at last. The Federal Reserve Interest Rate decision. A decision that swung markets heavily into Bullish territory as Interest Rates were cut by a full half percentage point. The Dow finished higher by 336 points while the Nasdaq and S&P were higher by 70 and 43 points respectively. All accounting for gains of over 2.5%.

The morning was highlighted by positive earnings and guidance from Electronics Retailer Best Buy (BBY) and Investment Bank Lehman Brothers (LEH). Best Buy posted earnings of $0.50/share versus the expected $0.44/share and beat the top line Revenue expectations of $8.45Billion by posting a monster number of $8.75Billion. Best buy even strengthened and tightened its outlook for the full year giving the market something to cheer about.

Lehman Brothers admitted that losses from Mortgaged related investments hit earnings but it compensated by posting dramatic tradings gains which more than offset those losses. As such Lehman lifted the entire banking and investment banking industries pushing stock higher broadly, and lifting its own shares 10% in the process. With the Fed's announcement of the 50 basis point rate cut, stocks immediately flew higher and continued to rally towards the end of the day. The biggest investment banks, which report earnings in the near future used the Lehman numbers to push even higher.

Goldman Sachs (GS) made back $13 to break the $200 share price barrier, a gain of almost 7%, while Morgan Stanley (MS) gained almost 6%. Financials came back strong on the news as not only did the Fed cut the interest rate by .5% but also cut the discount rate by another .5%. This was seen as a tremendous positive on the financial sector and investors piled back into these stocks.

Apple (AAPL) made it official this morning that the iPhone was coming to the UK. It announced a partnership with O2 to be the exclusive carrier of iPhone in Britain. Shares were up slightly on the news but drifted with the market before taking off following the rate cut announcement.

While investors were cautious approaching the Fed meeting, there's reason to cheer and smile now! However, the drastic 50 basis point cut should be viewed with still some caution, as once the news sinks in will investors be reading too much into the actions of the Fed and their long term economic effects? Its hard to say at this juncture because the main goal here was to alleviate the pressure from the credit collapse and get people talking economic strength again and not recession. I for one think that having a 50 basis point cut splashed across front page newspapers all across the US will spur optimism and a renewed faith in economic well-being. This is the best thing the Fed could hope for, and its a lot better for the average Joe to be discussing strength rather than a possible oncoming recession.

With the Fed pointing the market in the right direction its time to look at Technology for the holidays and the upcoming earnings seasons. October will be a month worth watching as major names in Tech report earnings and give guidance for their holiday expectations. The guidance game will be one to watch intensely and if Best Buy has given any indication today its that it'll be a holiday filled with shoppers.

Disclosure: Author is long AAPL, BBY, GS

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