The Federal Reserve may have kept interest rates near zero in its latest Federal Open Market Committee monetary policy decision, but its emerging hawkish attitude has made Wall Street nervous for sooner-than-anticipated rate hikes.
At the conclusion of its most recent policy meeting on Wednesday, the Fed indicated that they expect two interest rate increases by the end of 2023 to keep the economy from getting too hot as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Before this new projection, more than half of the Committee estimated that rates would remain near zero into 2024. Now the Fed sees rates rising as much as 0.6% by the end of 2023.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stated on Wednesday that the Fed's dual employment and inflation goals are happening faster than previously expected, which has led the central bank to adapt its accommodative strategies. Powell noted the the Fed still sees the current inflation period as "transitory," but cautions that the current projected U.S. GDP growth will have an impact on near-term prices, demonstrated by the rapid increase in consumer prices in May.
The Fed now expects GDP to grow by 7% in 2021, up from the 6.5% previously anticipated. However, the Committee still sees inflation trending to its 2% goal in the long-term.
"Widespread vaccinations along with unprecedented physical policy actions are providing strong support to the recovery," Powell stated during a press conference on Wednesday. "Indicators of economic activity and employment have continued to strengthen, and real GDP this year appears to be on rack to post its fastest rate of increases in decades. Much of this rapid growth reflects the continued bounce back in activity from depressed levels."
"The problem now is that demand is very strong, incomes are high, people have money in their bank accounts. Demand for goods is extremely high, and it hasn't come down," Powell added.
With coming rate hikes on the horizon, investors have some options to position their portfolio ahead of time to benefit from the central bank's evolving monetary policy.
The financial sector is one of the most sensitive sectors to changes in interest rates, meaning that it usually sours when rates drop and benefits when rates rise due to the strengthening economic backdrop. Stocks that benefit from rising rates in this sector include big banks like JPMorgan Chase
One of the best way to position across the entire sector is through exchange-traded funds (ETF), which decrease the risk of making a bad beat on a few companies by providing exposure to a broad swath of firms under one unit. A few stand-out financial ETFs are Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund
Beyond financials, other sectors that benefit from an expanding economy and a rising rate environment include consumer discretionary, manufacturers and industrials, as consumers are more likely to spend outside of consumer staples when they have more money in their pockets. Some ETFs to consider are SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF