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Federal Reserve anticipates only one interest rate cut this year

 

Federal Reserve sees some progress on inflation but envisions just one rate cut this year

Federal Reserve officials announced Wednesday that US inflation has moved closer to their target in recent months, but they anticipate only one cut to the benchmark interest rate this year. This was down from the Fed's previous forecast of three cuts, as inflation remains above the 2% target level despite recent cooling.

The unexpected revision came after a government report earlier in the day showed US inflation in May eased more than economists had predicted, suggesting that the Fed’s high-rate policies are succeeding in taming price increases.

The Federal Reserve kept its key rate unchanged at roughly 5.3%, where it has been since July of last year after 11 consecutive increases aimed at curbing borrowing and spending — and cooling the rate of inflation.

Financial markets appeared to take encouragement from the policy statement the Fed issued after its latest meeting ended, which underscored that it sees progress in its fight against high inflation. Broad stock indices rose sharply, and bond yields fell in response.  

The S&P 500 was up 0.85% at the close of Wednesday trading, while the Nasdaq Composite rose by a sharper 1.53%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, slid by 0.09%.

 

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Federal Reserve rate policies could impact US election in November

The eventual reduction of the benchmark rate, now at a 23-year high, would lower loan costs for consumers, easing the financial burden of high rates for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, and other borrowing.  

The Fed’s rate policies in the coming months could also impact the US presidential election, as voters have expressed discontent with the economy under Joe Biden, largely due to higher prices compared to pre-pandemic levels. Christopher Rugaber, who covers the US economy and the Federal Reserve for the Associated Press, wrote:

“Though the unemployment rate is a low 4%, hiring is robust and consumers continue to spend, voters have taken a generally sour view of the economy under President Joe Biden. In large part, that’s because prices remain much higher than they were before the pandemic struck. High borrowing rates have imposed a further financial burden”.

During a press conference, Fed Chair Jerome Powell downplayed the significance of the forecasted single rate cut in 2024, noting that 15 out of 19 policymakers projected either one or two cuts this year:

“I would look at all of them as plausible. No one brings to this a really strong commitment to a particular rate path. It’s just what they think in a given moment in time.”

 

Analysts still believe two interest rate cuts possible despite Federal Reserve signal

Economists believe two rate cuts, potentially starting in September, are still possible despite the Fed's prediction of just one.

Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, told the Associated Press:

“I don’t think September’s off the table. To get there, you’d have to have a string of inflation reports like the one we got this morning”.

On Tuesday, Markets.com Chief Market Analyst Neil Wilson mentioned that the Fed may want to “stay ahead of the curve” with regards to cutting US interest rates, pointing to an “easing bias” that persists in the market: 

“In March [the Federal Reserve] signalled three rate cuts this year. By tomorrow it could be down to one. I think it comes down to a case of delaying the cuts rather than raising the neutral rate (that may come later). The NFP data on Friday was suspect.  

The Fed may be looking at slowing economic growth and higher unemployment now – unemployment has risen from 3.4% to 4.0%. Q1 GDP revisions were not great, consumer spending down and Q2 is not shooting the lights out. The NFP data was a bit of a red herring – the case for cutting is building. The Fed wants to stay ahead of the curve this time and the easing bias remains. Remember that inflation is good for the deficit”.

 

US dollar poised to remain firm over Memorial Day weekend

 

Fed Chair Powell says central bank sees no urgency to cut rates

Powell, however, cautioned that more positive data is needed to ensure inflation is sustainably moving towards 2%.  

He stressed that with a healthy economy, there is little urgency to cut rates:

“What we’ve been getting is good progress on inflation, with growth at a good level and with a strong labor market. Ultimately, we think rates will have to come down to continue to support that. But so far they haven’t had to”.

 

US inflation sees no month-on-month increase in May

On Wednesday morning, the US government reported that inflation eased for the second consecutive month in May. Core consumer prices, excluding food and energy, rose just 0.2% from April, the smallest increase since October. Year-over-year, core prices increased by 3.4%, the mildest pace in three years.

Powell welcomed the inflation report and expressed hope for similar future readings, saying:

“We welcome today’s [inflation] reading and hope for more like that”.

US inflation has declined significantly from a peak of 9.1% two years ago. The Fed now faces the challenge of keeping rates high enough to curb spending and fully defeat inflation without causing a recession.

Measures of inflation cooled steadily in the latter half of last year, raising hopes for a “soft landing,” where inflation is controlled without triggering a recession. However, unexpectedly high inflation in the first quarter of this year, delaying the hoped-for rate cuts and potentially imperiling a soft landing.


When considering shares, indices, forex (foreign exchange) and commodities for trading and price predictions, remember that trading CFDs involves a significant degree of risk and could result in capital loss.  

Past performance is not indicative of any future results. This information is provided for informative purposes only and should not be construed to be investment advice. 

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