After the thrashing it took last week, Citigroup (NYSE:C) stock is trading up today, a full 2.15% about two hours into trading, as markets look for some clarity from the Federal Reserve -- which they may just get.
Waiting for Bernanke
This Wednesday, the Fed's Open Market Committee will meet. The FOMC is where Fed monetary policy is made. It's the minutes from these meetings investors pour over to divine the central bank's future intentions.
And the future intentions on everyone's mind right now is the fate of quantitative easing: the Fed's monthly bond-purchase program, and possibly the driving force behind the country's nascent economic recovery. Bernanke himself has said on several occasions that QE will be tapered back as the economy improves, and investors fear that time might be now.
Foolish bottom line
The Fed has been expanding its balance sheet in the hopes of boosting the U.S. economy since September 2013, to the tune of $85 billion per month. About half of that goes to the purchase of mortgage-backed securities, in the hopes of boosting the housing market in particular, which can contribute as much as 18% to GDP when it's going strong -- which it is right now.
In addition, unemployment is down, and the country has seen positive economic growth while the eurozone languishes in recession. QE can't go on forever, but investors fear its removal. Though it hasn't been around for very long, QE feels like it's always been there.
So the markets have been risk-on, risk-off a lot lately. Investors want some certainty, but whatever the Fed says on Wednesday, there will be none of that. QE will start to go away, probably this year; it's a matter of when, not if. In the meantime, investors should look toward the companies they're invested in in particular for focus, direction, and certainty.
In that regard, Citi investors should feel quite secure. The superbank has come a long way since the financial crisis. Both revenue and earnings were up on a year-over-year basis for the first quarter of 2013, Citi has a strong overseas presence -- which I believe will be one of its greatest strengths moving forward -- and it has a steady-Eddie banker's banker in charge now: Michael Corbat.
So take a long-term view of Citi, fellow Fools, as you should with all of your investments. Tune out the market noise, and tune into the fundamentals of the companies you're invested in. Leave the obsessive ticker checking to the day traders. Your portfolio will thank you, even if your broker won't.
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