The Federal Reserve’s ultra-easy monetary policy has been a major cause of rising corporate profits and a broader recovery, says Black Rock Chief Equity Strategist Bob Doll. The Fed has also helped bring about the decline in the dollar, boosting exports.
“We doubt that we will see any sort of significant jolt since markets have already priced in the end of QE2,” Doll said.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has indicated that the Fed will keep rates low into the near future, and several stock indices (including the small cap Russell 2000 and the Dow Jones Transportation Average) reached new all-time highs. The S&P 500 is at its highest point since before the credit crisis erupted in the summer of 2008.
Although the preliminary first-quarter report showed an annualized GDP increase of only 1.8%, lower than expected, Doll attributes some of the poor growth rate to bad weather and a drop in government spending, neither of which will continue. “Some bright spots in the report included decent consumption growth as well as significant strength from the corporate sector, which saw capital expenditures rise by 11.6%, well ahead of expectations.”
The monthly Case Shiller Home Price Index for February showed a disappointing drop of 0.2. However, Doll still predicts US GDP growth around 3% for all of 2011.
Temma Ehrenfeld writes for Financial Planning.