For six months, the Federal Reserve has shifted the gears of monetary policy to stimulate the economy, but the stock market's wheels are...

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For six months, the Federal Reserve has shifted the gears of monetary policy to stimulate the economy, but the stock market’s wheels are still spinning.

Lower borrowing costs are designed to help the economy but have historically been a palliative for stocks.

Tech stocks, for instance, have jumped 21 percent, on average, in the half-year that follows the start of a rate-cutting cycle, according to Standard & Poor’s.

This time around, the industry’s stocks fell 10 percent through March 18. The pattern held in other industries, as the table shows.

Lower rates usually encourage consumers to borrow and spend, but household-debt levels are already high. Also, lenders have tightened the rules on who even gets credit, having been recently burned on mortgages and corporate loans.

The Fed usually relies on private banks to transmit the stimulation of a rate cut through loans. But banking-sector stalwarts such as Citigroup have taken a direct hit in this downturn.

The Fed recently made its sixth cut to rates since September, and stocks finally responded, with the Dow jumping 400 points.

But the blue-chip index was still lower for the year.