In March, large-cap tech stocks, particularly those in the AI sector, continued to lead the market. Notably, NVIDIA’s market capitalization temporarily reached $2.4 trillion, almost ten times its value from a year ago, a surge possibly linked to the market’s optimism about expected policy support from the Federal Reserve.

However, the Federal Reserve’s recent announcements, combined with higher-than-anticipated inflation data, prompted a reassessment of the expected rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. While these adjustments have not yet significantly affected the S&P 500 (which gained +3.1% in March), they are likely to impact stock prices eventually.

Despite a worsening inflation outlook, the S&P index saw only minor declines. These slight pullbacks were not enough to substantially affect our long put spreads in the Directional Spread Strategy. Volatility has created potentially profitable trading opportunities with option credit spreads. However, these positions require some degree of market downturn to become effective. The gap between the Federal Reserve’s cautious approach to rate cuts and the market’s aggressive expectations for such cuts could trigger this decline.

The Tactical Strategy successfully leveraged low volatility to find profitable trades, resulting in a gain for the month. Even with a low VIX, option credit spreads offered potentially profitable opportunities that we took advantage of. The disparity between market expectations and reality regarding Federal Reserve rate cuts may lead to increased volatility.

At the beginning of 2024, the market anticipated six separate quarter-point rate cuts from the Federal Reserve. By March’s end, this expectation had reduced to fewer than three cuts, even as the S&P gained over 10% during the same period. This inconsistency is unsustainable.

Given the significant influence of the Federal Funds rate on the economy through its effect on debt instruments and loans, high debt costs could eventually burden corporate profits and the economy. While the market may currently be buoyed by a few speculative stocks, this is unlikely to continue if debt costs remain elevated.