The stock market noise event that began with an unfortunate statement made by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke back on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 at 2:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time is essentially over.
We've chronicled the event from the beginning, as the S&P 500 first first lost some 4.8% of its closing value on 18 June 2013 in just four trading days, before taking another eleven trading days to recover to just over that level, to finally get to the effective conclusion of the noise event another seven trading days later!
What marked the end of the event was the conclusion of Chairman Bernanke's previously scheduled two days of testimony before the U.S. Congress, in which the chairman was very careful to keep on the Fed's damage control message that the beginning of the end of its latest programs of quantitative easing was not imminent, and would be very unlikely before the end of 2013. Investors reacted by more completely shifting their forward-looking focus to the first quarter of 2014 in setting stock prices, which we can observe in our chart below:
In our chart, we see that the change in the growth rate of daily stock prices (indicated by the dotted blue line) rapidly closed the gap with the level indicated by the year-over-year change in the expected growth rate of trailing year dividends per share for the first quarter of 2014 (indicated by the solid green line). With that level representing where investors are now focused, it is now well within the typical range of variation that we observe when the stock market is characterized by relatively low levels of noise.
What this means is that the Fed has been successful in re-shifting the forward-looking focus of investors back to the level of expectations associated with the future quarter of 2014-Q1.
In the absence of a new noise event, we would anticipate that the acceleration for stock prices will converge with and bounce around this level. The good news is that will mean generally rising stock prices.
The bad news is that noise is always present in the stock market - only its source and volume ever changes!
On a closing note, we'll observe that if nothing else, Ben Bernanke's second term in charge of the Fed is ending as it began, with a noise event that only arose as a direct result of his status as the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Let's face it - he certainly wouldn't have anywhere near the same impact on markets if he were just a tenured professor at the second best university in New Jersey.
There's some symmetry there to appreciate, but if we're being honest, we're hoping that the next Fed chair won't be so damned noisy in their comings and goings.