Economists hunt for clues on future moves in ‘expected’ Fed decision

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The Federal Reserve didn’t exactly throw any curve balls at its first meeting of 2017, leaving economists to read between the lines to see what, if anything, the central bank has signalled about what to expect later this year.

FastFT has rounded up some initial reactions to today’s rate decision:

Kully Samra, UK managing director of Charles Schwab:

“This is only the first FOMC meeting of eight in 2017 so there are still plenty of opportunities for the Fed to raise interest rates throughout the year and it is likely that we will see a rate rise in March or June. In our view, two rate hikes this year would be sufficient to stave off inflation concerns and would not negatively impact economic growth.”

Joshua Shapiro, chief US economist at MFR:

“Nothing in the statement either further opened or closed the door to a tightening move on March 15. If that is to occur, it will most certainly have been well flagged by Fed-speak in the interim. Our view remains that June is a more likely time for the move than March, but a reasonable case for March could certainly be made if economic data continue to come in on the stronger side.”

Rob Carnell, chief international economist at ING:

“If the Fed does intend to raise rates three times this year as their December dot diagram suggested, then they are making it difficult for themselves by not opening the door to a March hike. The only substantive change to the FOMC statement text was ‘Measures of consumer and business sentiment have improved of late. Inflation increased in recent quarters but is still below the Committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective’.

There is little reference to the fact that inflation is now knocking at the door of their longer run objective, or that wages growth now appears to have taken off. With further strength in the labour market and inflation likely to be evident before the March meeting, and the likelihood that the Fed’s longer run inflation objectives will not only be met but possibly surpassed by then, we feel that the Fed has missed a trick today in not nudging markets in the direction of a March hike. And if they do not move then, it will appear to some market participants that the Fed is falling behind the curve.”

Matt Weller, senior market analyst at Faraday Research:

“For traders, the biggest mystery was whether Dr. Yellen and company were leaning toward raising interest rates in March or closer to June, and at the margin, it seems as if the Fed is leaning more toward the latter. Whereas many observers expected that the central bank would upgrade its assessment of the inflation picture, the FOMC reiterated that “market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low” and that “survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed.”

Lee Ferridge, head of multi-asset strategy for North America at State Street Global Markets:

“Although recent Fed commenters have taken a more hawkish tone it seems that the uncertainty surrounding likely policy moves in the coming months means that the FOMC remains in wait and see mode. While a March move is still possible should headline inflation and inflation expectations rise materially in the coming weeks, it seems that the June meeting is now the most likely time for the next hike in the cycle.”

Steven Ricchiuto, chief US economist at Mizuho:

“I expect the minutes to be released in a few weeks will show a more wide ranging debate than that indicated by the policy statement but the clear lack of visibility on key trade, tax, spending and regulatory initiatives argued for a well-scrubbed statement. The risk was one-sided going into the release and after the stronger than expected ADAP and ISM reports this morning, the bond market is likely to sell off into Friday’s payroll report. I would not be surprised if the 10-year is well above 2.5 per cent by Friday and the 2-year is closer to 1.3% than to current levels before the jobs data is reported.”

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