Fed Governor Sends Dow Falling

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) started the day with a strong rise, but fell after Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser said the Fed may have to be "aggressive" in raising interest rates if banks increase their lending. As of 1:30 p.m. EST the Dow was up 10 points to 16,451. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) was down two point to 1,830.

The Nor'easter that hit the East Coast did not stop Fed officials from speaking today. Three Federal Reserve officials are speaking in Philadelphia at the American Economic Association annual meeting. Plosser was first, followed by Fed Governor Jeremy Stein at 1:15 p.m. EST and then a 2:30 p.m. EST speech and Q&A by Chairman Ben Bernanke. Separately, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker was also speaking today in Baltimore.

Plosser rotates into a voting role on the Federal Open Market Committee at the first meeting in 2014, along with the presidents from Cleveland, Dallas, and Minneapolis. Plosser is seen as a hawk in favor of tighter economic policy. His speech met those expectations when he suggested fellow FOMC members' expectations of rates below 2% in 2017 may be too low if the economy reaches full employment. He also warned that it is unclear what distortions have been created in the market from the Federal Reserve's zero interest rate policy and other extraordinary measures to keep interest rates low for the past six years. Plosser also commented that while the FOMC would like to raise rates gradually, "it doesn't always work that way." He went on to say: "How fast will we have to move interest rates up… we don't know the answer to that. People like to think the Fed has all this great control over interest rates, but the market does its own thing."

It will be interesting to follow the remaining speeches from the FOMC members today to see what they are thinking. Tomorrow will see a panel discussion on Federal Reserve banks, moderated by former World Bank chief economist Stanley Fischer and including Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, and New York Fed President William Dudley. Plosser caps off the meeting tomorrow with a speech at 5 p.m. EST.

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