Goldman Sachs pushes back predicted timing of possible Fed rate cut to September

Published 05/24/2024, 07:45 AM
© Reuters -- Analysts at Goldman Sachs have pushed back when they expect the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates this year, citing comments from central bank officials this week calling for more evidence that inflation in the world's largest economy is sustainably cooling down to their 2% target.

In a note to clients on Friday, the Goldman Sachs analysts said they now do not expect the Fed to roll out a rate cut until September. They had previously estimated that the reduction -- which would be the first since the Fed embarked on a steep run of policy tightening in 2022 -- would come in July.

The decision echoes broader market expectations, with the CME Group's (NASDAQ:CME) closely-watched FedWatch Tool indicating a roughly 45% chance that the Fed brings rates down from a more than two-decade high level of 5.25% to 5.5% in September.

Statements from Fed officials this week suggested that rate-setters were in no rush to ratchet down borrowing costs. Minutes from the Fed's latest meeting also showed that members remained worried about sticky inflationary pressures, with some even expressing a "willingness to tighten policy further" should risks appear of price growth reigniting.

Meanwhile, stronger-than-anticipated business activity data and lower weekly unemployment benefit filings also dented hopes for imminent interest rate cuts. In theory, an easing in activity and a softer labor market could help defuse inflation -- the ultimate goal of the Fed's hiking cycle.

"[A] July cut would likely require not just better inflation numbers but also meaningful signs of softness in the activity or labor market data. After the stronger May [purchasing managers' index data] and lower jobless claims, this does not look like the most likely outcome," the Goldman Sachs analysts said.

Fed officials will have the chance to parse through four separate consumer price index releases by its September meeting, the Goldman Sachs analysts said. They argued that they believe most members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee would then be open to slashing rates if "monthly core CPI inflation averages in the high 20s" and the core personal consumption expenditures index hovers around "the low 20s."

However, they flagged that even if inflation improves by September, it will be "hardly perfect and still at a year-on-year rate that makes cutting a less than obvious decision."

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