Stocks surged in the U.S. markets Thursday morning as our traders followed China’s traders for a second day. The Chinese stock market bounced back by almost 6% after Wednesday’s collapse there.
I am hopeful our traders started following Chinese stocks for the first time Wednesday just to have something to do until there is news on Greece over the weekend. If our traders have now decided the U.S. market should follow China’s lead, we should all just cash in and head for the hills.
European stocks also rose 2% on Thursday. A bit of that is on China, but there is a growing sense of optimism in Europe about the outcome on Greece this coming weekend. I have no idea from where this optimism stems. It certainly hasn’t been earned, and there is nothing out there that would indicate any great movement forward. But that’s the mood of the day.
This atmosphere is poisonous for bonds of course. Bond traders relished Wednesday’s stock woes, but they are giving back almost all of those gains. The Treasury will auction new 30-year bonds on Thursday. Demand for Wednesday’s 10-year note auction was very good, but there could be buyer’s remorse today as the note is underwater. That might crimp demand for the 30-year bond a bit.
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The minutes of the last FOMC meeting were released yesterday though they got little attention. The tone was decidedly cautious. There was one major takeaway for me. The minutes described a lot of talk of concerns about Greece, and this was before the events of the past two weeks. Some members were worried about the spillover effects from Greece in our markets. Think about that. They did not say they were worried about Greece’s impact on the U.S. economy. They were worried about the markets.
This is why Greece matters. It shouldn’t be that way, but that is the Fed we have now. The Fed was optimistic on the economy, but that seems to be irrelevant to them. There was one brave soul on the Fed who was ready to tighten now.
Dwight Johnston is the chief economist of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and president of Dwight Johnston Economics. He is the author of a popular commentary site and is a frequent speaker at credit union board planning sessions and industry conferences.