The “good” type of volatility

  • Stocks post biggest gains in more than a year, China shares soar
  • Oil back above $100, but volatile commodities mostly retreat
  • This week: Durable goods, housing numbers, Russia–Ukraine

The Fed didn’t surprise anyone with its decision to raise interest rates last week, but that didn’t prevent another volatility surge in a year that has seen plenty of them.

But this time it was the type of volatility that investors embrace—to the upside. Thanks to a 6.9% Tuesday–Friday rally, the US market enjoyed its strongest week since November 2020:

Chart 1: S&P 500 (SPX), 1/31/22–3/18/22. S&P 500 (SPX) price chart. Three-day surge.

Source: Power E*TRADE. (For illustrative purposes. Not a recommendation.)

The headline: US stocks rally around rate hike.

The fine print: The Nasdaq 100 (NDX) was last week’s strongest major US index, even though the index is comprised mostly of the type of growth and tech stocks that are traditionally expected to underperform in a rising-rate environment.

The number: 10%, the year-over-year increase for the Producer Price Index (PPI) reported last Tuesday—a fresh inflation high that served as a reminder of why the Fed is tightening monetary policy.

The move: The Hang Seng (Hong Kong) stock index rallied 16.8% last Wednesday–Thursday—its biggest two-day rally more than 20 years—as Beijing signaled it would support struggling financial markets, and specifically ease up on the regulatory crackdown that has weighed on Chinese tech shares for many months.1

The scorecard: Even the “weakest” major index gained more than 5% last week:

US stock index performance table for week ending 3/18/22. S&P 500 (SPX), Nasdaq 100 (NDX), Russell 2000 (RUT), Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA).

Source (data): Power E*TRADE. (For illustrative purposes. Not a recommendation.)

Sector roundup: The strongest S&P 500 sectors last week were consumer discretionary (+9.3%), information technology (+7.9%), and financials (+7.1%). The weakest sectors were energy (-3.6%), utilities (+0.5%), and real estate (+2.7%).

Highlight reel: On Wednesday Joyy (YY) +66% to $42.27, KE Holdings (BEKE) +64% to $14.89—two of the many Chinese stocks that jumped that day. On the downside, Pinduoduo (PDD) -20.5% on Monday, on I-Mab (IMAB) -25% to $12.54 on Wednesday.

Futures action: After starting last week with a two-day, 12% sell-off, May WTI crude oil (CLK2) rallied 8.7% last Thursday and followed through with a 1.6% gain on Friday to end the week little changed at $103.09. April gold (GCJ2) lost ground, falling to a two-week low below $1,900/ounce last Wednesday before closing Friday at $1,929.30. Biggest up moves: June Russian ruble (R6M2) +33.6%, March ether (ETHH2) +17%. Biggest down moves: May lumber (LBSK2) -27.7%, May hard red wheat (KWK2) -6%.

Coming this week

With the Fed meeting in the rearview mirror, the conflict war in Ukraine may again take over center stage. This week’s numbers include:

Today: Chicago Fed National Activity Index, Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaks at NABE conference
Wednesday: New Home Sales
Thursday: Durable Goods Orders, Q4 current account deficit
Friday: Consumer Sentiment, Pending Home Sales

This week’s earnings include:

Today: Pinduoduo (PDD), Nike (NKE)
Tuesday: J.Jill (JILL), HealthEquity (HQY), Adobe Inc. (ADBE)
Wednesday: General Mills (GIS), Cintas (CTAS), Winnebago (WGO), JinkoSolar (JKS), Ollie's Bargain Outlet (OLLI), KB Home (KBH), Steelcase (SCS)
Thursday: FactSet Research Systems (FDS), TD SYNNEX (SNX), NIO (NIO), Movado Group (MOV)

Check the Active Trader Commentary each morning for an updated list of earnings announcements, IPOs, economic reports, and other market events.

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1 Bloomberg. China Stocks Cap Best Two-Day Rally Since 1998 on Support Pledge. 3/17/22.

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