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Fed Raises Interest Rates; Powell Signals Aggressive Rate Hikes Unlikely

Economic IndicatorsSep 26, 2018 02:00PM ET
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The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate on Wednesday.

Investing.com - The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday, while Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicated there was no shift in thinking on monetary policy, despite an amendment to the statement.

The Federal Open Market Committee increased the overnight funds rate to a range of 2.00% to 2.25%..

The Fed removed its use of "accommodative" to describe its stance on monetary policy. There was much debate about whether removal of that key phrase was hawkish or dovish, but the Fed chief poured some cold water on the speculation.

"The change does not signal any change in the likely path of policy," Powell said at his press conference. "Instead it is a sign that policy is proceeding in line with our expectations."

"The Committee expects that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term. Risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced," the statement said. "In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 2 to 2-1/4 percent."

Members of the rate-setting committee kept their 2018 median forecast for interest rates unchanged at 2.4%, suggesting a December rate hike remained in play, which would take the total rate hikes in 2018 to four. The outlook on rates for both 2019 and 2020 were also maintained at 3.1% and 3.4%, respectively.

"The median interest rate forecast 'dot' continues to anticipate another hike in December -- albeit with more (members supporting the view) than in the last set of dots in June -- another three hikes next year, and one more hike in 2020; the first look at the 2021 dots indicates policy rates expected to be on hold at 3.375%," JPMorgan said.

The odds of a December rate hike slipped below 80% after the announcement, according to Investing.com's Fed Rate Monitor tool.

In a sign of confidence in the U.S. economy, members of the rate-setting committee raised their economic growth projection for this year, forecasting U.S. economic growth of 3.1% in 2018, an increase from the previous projection of 2.8% in June. The growth outlook for 2019 was hiked by 10 basis points to 2.5%, but 2020's was unchanged.

The Federal Reserve left its outlook on inflation unchanged, forecasting core-PCE inflation outlook for 2018 at 2.0%. While Core-PCE Inflation for 2019 and 2020 was left unchanged at 2.1%.

The central bank's unchanged outlook on inflation comes as the most recent reading of the core PCE price index, the Fed's preferred measure of inflation, came in at 2%, though the central bank has signalled that it was somewhat comfortable with inflation running above target.

The tightness in the labor market is expected to ease in 2018, with the unemployment rate expected at 3.7%, up from a prior forecast of 3.6%. The central bank forecasts the unemployment rate for both 2019 and 2020 at 3.5%, in line with a previous estimate.

The U.S. dollar index sold off quickly following the statement. That could be due to some bets that the removal of "accommodative" in the statement indicates that the Fed was getting closer to a neutral rate -- one that neither stimulates the economy, nor constrains the economy -- indicating less urgency for tightening. Some analysts said, however, that it was "stretch" to suggest the tweak in language was dovish.

"We had anticipated this (the removal of accommodative), based on what we thought were strong clues in the most recent FOMC minutes, though this change was debated by analysts. Some would read this change as dovish, though we think that’s a stretch," JPMorgan said.

Powell downplayed the prospect of stronger inflation prompting the Fed to adopt a faster pace of monetary policy.

"The main thing where we might need to move along a little bit quicker if inflation surprises to the upside. We don't see that," Powell said.

Fed Raises Interest Rates; Powell Signals Aggressive Rate Hikes Unlikely
 

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Comments (8)
Subhojit Nath
Subhojit Nath Sep 26, 2018 2:52PM ET
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I am not sure the person writing this article is aware of the economics of Currency Market. First , it's stated that the stance is hawkish due to removal of the word "accommodative" . Up till this its fine. Then at the end of the article it says that because of the removal of the word "accomodative " USD sold off. Crazy stuff. Hawkish itself means that the government will look to tighten the economy by raising interest rates in future. Removal of the word accomodative means that it will stay on its course of increasing interest rate and will not care about the economy. Given these facts , the dollar should rise , which it eventually will . The sold off was an anomaly. But the writer has no clue about these things. The way he /she has written will lead any new learner to believe that "Hawkish" is associated with sell off which is completely wrong . Expected much more proffessionalism from Investing.COM
Oliver Rios
orios01 Sep 26, 2018 2:52PM ET
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Agreed goofy as ******to see this a common article
Beast Mode
Beast Mode Sep 26, 2018 2:52PM ET
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You are so off the mark it is unbelievable, Hawkish = US dollar bulls. Accommodative means prepared to make changes where necessary! The sell off was not an anomaly, the sell off equaled 2.25% in pips. You say the sell off was an anomaly, tell me did you buy?
Ronnie Lewin
Ronnie Lewin Sep 26, 2018 2:44PM ET
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why sell banks when rates are rising?
Hans Kim
Danielh Sep 26, 2018 2:44PM ET
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It might be likely to worsen the revenue of banks when interset rates are rising because their assets like loan for housing are with lower qualities as home owners with bank debt are less likely to pay interest of borrowed money for purchasing house ...
Hans Kim
Danielh Sep 26, 2018 2:44PM ET
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It applies to student loan tab, savings account, mortgage, car loan and credit card.
Prabath Vishwanathan
Prabath Vishwanathan Sep 26, 2018 2:24PM ET
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is this bad news for Dalal street?
Pratik Ratadia
Pratik Ratadia Sep 26, 2018 2:23PM ET
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Sell bank stocks
Pratik Ratadia
Pratik Ratadia Sep 26, 2018 2:23PM ET
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buy gold sell stocks
tanongsak tesana
tanongsak tesana Sep 26, 2018 2:21PM ET
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No...
Ali Alzahrani
Ali Alzahrani Sep 26, 2018 2:16PM ET
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You should sell the usd
Mohd Fikrullah Hamdi
Mohd Fikrullah Hamdi Sep 26, 2018 2:07PM ET
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CNT WE BUY USDJPY
Holy Light
Holy Light Sep 26, 2018 2:07PM ET
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buy usd pair to all low risk currency.
 
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