- Federal Reserve keeps short-term interest rates unchanged at a range of between 0.25% and 0.5%
- Fed officials also suggested there will only be two more rate hikes this year
- Weakening dollar helps bolster commodity assets
With the Federal Reserve keeping short-term interest rates unchanged, rate-sensitive exchange traded funds popped while some trades dependent on higher rates went out of favor.
The Fed kept short-term rates unchanged at a range of between 0.25% and 0.5%, pointing to ongoing global economic and financial risks, ABC News reports.
Fed officials also suggested there will only be two more rate hikes this year, according to their projections, down from previous estimates of four hikes as policymakers grow more cautious in the wake of weakening overseas growth and volatility in financial markets.
With the Fed holding off on further rate hikes, the PowerShares DB U.S. Dollar Index Bullish Fund (NYSEArca: UUP), which tracks the price movement of the U.S. dollar against a basket of currencies, lost momentum and dipped 0.6% Wednesday. A Fed rate hike would have diminished the supply of money floating around the economy and strengthened the greenback, but without the Fed’s support, the USD’s outlook looks less certain.
Additionally, the Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLF) was down 0.6% Wednesday. Without high rates to support loans, banks will continue to see squeezed margins in a low rate environment.
On the other hand, yield-generating assets popped as the Fed maintains lower rates. For instance, on Wednesday, the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSEArca: VIG) rose 0.4%, Vanguard REIT ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ) gained 0.9% and Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU) increased 1.0%. Dividend-generating assets were among the best performing areas of the market as a prolonged period of low interest rates typically make relatively riskier equities attractive to more conservative fixed-income assets.
Additionally, the weakening dollar helped bolster commodity assets, with the broad PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund (NYSEArca: DBC) 1.6% higher on Wednesday.
The SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) advanced 1.5%. Gold assets would typically weaken on rate hikes since investors would shift away from non-yield-generating assets like gold, especially on a stronger dollar and lower inflation outlook.
The United States Oil Fund (NYSEArca: USO), which tracks West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures, also pushed higher, rising 4.9% Wednesday on the weaker dollar.