It’s the disclosure that everyone interested in the investment markets were waiting for. As InvestorPlace financial news writer Samuel O’Brient noted, the Federal Reserve recently met to discuss current economic challenges, particularly the soaring inflation rate. While the subsequent answer soothed benchmark indices, it leaves a question mark for SoFi Technologies (NASDAQ:SOFI), particularly as SOFI stock is levered toward interest rates.
On the positive front, the Fed acknowledged that rising consumer costs was not a transitory circumstance but an issue that needed confrontation. Therefore, the much-anticipated rate hikes will be coming — three of them throughout 2022. “Additionally, as the economy recovers, rates will likely increase along with it, rising t0 2.1% by the end of 2024. That’s from the current target range of 0% to 0.25%,” wrote O’Brient.
Just as importantly, the monthly bond-buying program will stop, perhaps as early as March of next year. Essentially, by removing the core catalysts for inflation, prices should start resembling some sense of normal. And that has encouraged investors. Thus resulting in several stocks — including SOFI stock — jumping higher.
Significant Gains but They’re Tenuous
Admittedly, the gains aren’t insignificant, even with financial institutions likely to encounter an, at minimum, ambiguous situation. After all, rising rates may be good on paper for lenders but the economy has to be robust enough to encourage the initial transaction. Despite these outstanding questions, SOFI stock leapt to a nearly 5% gain for the mid-December session.
Still, investors might not be in too much of a hurry to bid up SOFI stock. Although the swing up was encouraging, it also occurred on lower volume compared to prior big bullish sessions. Therefore, prospective participants still need to be cautious — and I believe they will be better served waiting for additional economic confirmation.
Confusing Housing Market Poses Worries for SOFI Stock
Obviously, one of the most notable hallmarks of this wild inflationary period in the new normal has been soaring housing prices. With people bidding up homes well above their listing price, SoFi’s home loan business and refinancing businesses surely outperformed. But with the Fed’s proposed rate hike schedule, this would seemingly hurt SOFI stock.
If borrowing costs rise, that’s not going to be the most conducive situation for home mortgage providers. Since borrowers may need to pay more per month, a modest drop in home prices may not be attractive enough. And that could send SOFI stock lower in the longer term.
However, as some real estate experts noted, rising rates could actually accelerate home buying. Because prospective homebuyers know that the time is now, they will be even more aggressive with their offers. But then, one has to wonder the sustainability of higher rates and higher home prices.
Others counter that the rate hikes themselves will not be so onerous in the end, which is a good point. But if that’s the case, the real estate market may not decline to normal valuations. Indeed, housing prices tend to move much more slowly than say stocks.
Another possibility, though, in this confusing matter is that even if home prices tumble, that might not bring buyers to the table. That’s because plenty of folks who are in this market remember the mid-2000s housing crisis. During that time, valuations didn’t just correct, they plummeted to desperately low levels.
So, if we do see a 10% shave from the top, homebuyers might sit on the sidelines based on the anticipatory thesis mentioned earlier. Given that SOFI stock can move in multiple directions, conservative investors may find more benefit in clarity rather than risk making a bad wager.
Too Many Variables
In most situations, you want to remove as many variables as possible. Whether you’re doing a calculus problem or engaged in a street fight, the fewer variables, the better. This way, you can direct your resources to legitimate problems rather than dealing with unknowns.
For me, the rate hike situation — while it might do well for equities in general — presents huge question marks for financial lenders. And for SOFI stock in general, the underlying company is unprofitable, though it’s taking steps to pare net losses.
Therefore, you have a fundamentally shaky ecosystem with a less-than-stellar company. Factor in other uncertainties — the pandemic, geopolitics, trade relations, social fracturing — and SOFI is really not a comfortable trade for anyone other than risk-tolerant speculators.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.