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Markets Surge Despite Tillerson Exit

Tillerson

Markets opened strong Tuesday morning on a less-threatening take on inflation, with some gains trimmed by news that Trump had sacked his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, ahead of North Korea talks.

At 8:30am EST Tuesday, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was released, showing a 0.2-percent rise in inflation in February. Data showed that over the past 12 months, the CPI increased to 2.2 percent, from 2.1 percent.

The overall interpretation of the data is that while inflation rose, there was not an overly threatening acceleration.

Inflation-adjusted U.S. hourly wages remained flat for the month of February, and have risen a negligible 0.4 percent over the past year, according to the CPI.

The report is the final—and most critical—inflation reading before the Federal Reserve moves on an interest rate hike next week.

The CPI data doesn’t mean the market is not immune from inflation fear, though. While Monday’s strong open was a relief, the reprieve may only be temporary. Inflation is a barometer for how many times the Fed might raise interest rates this year. While three hikes have already been discussed for 2018, an increase in inflation could trigger more rate hikes. Related: Amazon’s Bid For A Monopoly On Everything

The Dow rose 187 points pre-market, led by Intel, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both gained 0.6 percent. The Dow paired some gains at the open on Tuesday morning on news that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was being replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo.

By 10:15am EST, the Dow was looking at a 139-point rise.

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Trump made his announcement to the world via Twitter early this morning:

(Click to enlarge)

Last Friday, reports first emerged that Trump had asked Tillerson to resign, and the Secretary of State returned home early on Monday from his Africa trip.

Related: U.S. Mint Under Fire As Chinese Counterfeits Flood Markets

His departure sparked wobbles on the markets, with US stock index futures paring their gains and the dollar also trimming gains versus the yen while extending losses versus the euro.

Analysts say investors aren’t likely to respond too negatively to the Tillerson news, suggesting that the market is growing immune to White House exits.

“It’s complete turnover at the White House and right on the precipice of these talks with North Korea,” Cresset Wealth founder Jack Ablin told CNBC. “Replacing him with CIA director Pompeo, at face value I don’t think it means a ton to investors; it just underscores this turbulence going on inside the White House. … I think it’s a near-term negative, but something investors will get over pretty quickly.”

By Jan Bauer for Safehaven.com

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