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Investors that think the Federal Reserve may choose to pull the trigger sooner rather than later have some company.
Economists with JPMorgan tweaked their Fed forecasts on Wednesday, saying they now expected the US central bank to next lift rates by 25 basis points in May as opposed to June. The lender said the central bank would follow with a second and final increase for the year in September.
The shift from JPMorgan accompanies a re-evaluation by investors and traders, who bid rates on federal funds futures higher after data showed an acceleration in inflation.
Calculations on federal funds futures put a May rise at 62 per cent, up from 53 per cent a day earlier, according to Bloomberg. The May contract traded hands on Wednesday at a rate of 0.81 per cent — above the US central bank’s current target range for the federal funds rate of 0.5 to 0.75 per cent.
“We think March would be a good meeting for them to prepare the markets for a hike at the subsequent meeting on May 3rd,” said Michael Feroli, an economist with JPMorgan. “The Federal Open Market Committee may well be looking for an opportunity to move at a non-press conference meeting in order to convince the markets that every meeting truly is ‘live’.”
Andrew Brenner, the head of international fixed income of National Alliance, said: “We may join [JPMorgan] after we see the [William] Dudley speech tonight. Fed speeches clearly on the war path to higher rates.”
Meanwhile, economists at Goldman Sachs said that based on the inflation data released on Wednesday, “we now think it is a close call whether the committee will hike the funds rate at the next two meetings or wait until June, and we see very high odds (90%) of at least one rate increase by mid-year.”