Cramer on Fed rate hike: 'Owning stocks just got harder,' but that's no reason to panic

CNBC's Jim Cramer breaks down what the Federal Reserve's Wednesday interest rate hike means for investors.

Even though stocks fell in response to the hike, the "Mad Money" host says there's no reason to panic.

The Federal Reserve's Wednesday interest rate hike — the central bank's second for 2018 — shouldn't stir legitimate worry among investors, CNBC's Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

As the Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 120 points after the Fed implemented its quarter-point hike, Cramer argued that the widely anticipated move incurred a natural reaction among Wall Street watchers.

"Recognize that owning stocks just got harder," the "Mad Money" host said. "Higher rates are not a positive for the market. They're a negative."

Every rate hike tends to push at least some buyers out of the stock market because lending automatically becomes more expensive, he explained. And with the Fed indicating that two more hikes are on the horizon, he could understand why some bulls were on the fritz.

"Still, there is zero reason for panic," Cramer told investors. "The market plummeted and then even bounced back a bit after Fed Chair Jay Powell allayed our fears in a very well-run press conference, ensuring us that we won't get a rat-a-tat-tat series of rate hikes no matter what."

Cramer also argued that Powell, who was nominated to his post by President Donald Trump, made the right decision in hiking rates a second time.

"Inflation has finally started to pick up ... so he needs to take action," he said. "Many people have been lulled into a belief that inflation can't come back. But when the Fed chief says the economy has accelerated, that makes many investors assume that inflation could be right around the corner."

But deflationary pressures from rapidly digitizing industries, which tend to produce lower costs, could mean that inflation won't rise in a straight line, the "Mad Money" host said.

And when it comes to the broader market, Cramer told investors to expect a sector-to-sector rotation, most likely from the homebuilding stocks, which are pressured by higher rates, to the bank stocks, which benefit hugely from cheaper lending.

Technology, consumer packaged goods and industrial stocks could also take a hit as Wall Street digests what the Fed's plan for the second half of 2018 could mean for markets, he warned.

All things considered, though, "rates will still be pretty low by historical standards even after four rate hikes this year," Cramer said. "So, it is a pause. Some stocks can go higher in pause mode, but probably not the same stocks that were going up before the pause and that's an important distinction. In the end, though, let's face it: this whole game? It just got harder."

source: CNBC/Mad Money