Money markets and giants including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Barclays Plc now see the Fed boosting rates by 75 basis points. The last time officials hiked by that amount was under then Chair Alan Greenspan in 1994. Wednesday’s decision is due at 2 p.m. in Washington and Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference 30 minutes later. The Fed chief indicated in May that officials would move forward with half-point moves in June and July as long as economic data came in as expected. But in the past few days, inflation figures have surprised to the high side, making investors bet on a bigger hike.
For that reason, the highly scrutinized dot plot, which the central bank uses to signal its outlook for the rate path, may not reflect the latest thinking by Fed officials — given that participants had to submit their projections before this week’s market developments.
“We expect a 75-basis-point hike. We would say that’s baked into the market,” said Anna Han, equity strategist at Wells Fargo Securities. “We want to have confidence in the Fed, we want to believe that they’re seeing what we’re seeing and that they’re not going to let inflation run away to their best ability starting now.”
Sam Zell, founder of Equity Group Investments, told CNBC that if he were the chairman of the Fed, he would raise rates by a full point Wednesday. Zell believes the central bank’s credibility “has been lost” and it needs to do something to regain it and convince the world that it intends to “get control” of inflation. Late Tuesday, Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman said officials would be better off by raising rates 100 basis points “tomorrow, in July and thereafter.” He noted the central bank has allowed inflation “to get out of control” and called for “aggressive action” that would help restore market confidence.
- “A more aggressive hike by the Fed today will help the markets bounce over the near-term,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co. “Yes, that bounce might not take place immediately, but given that the stock market is getting oversold and sentiment has become very bearish, we think a more than 50 basis point hike should lead to a bounce before too long.”
- “While markets now expect a 75-basis-point rate hike by the Fed, the press conference following the release of the statement this afternoon will help analysts assess the Fed’s ability to navigate Chairman Powell’s so-called “softish” landing as it takes a more aggressive approach in stanching inflation,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist for LPL Financial.
- “Market pricing is likely near an extreme right now, but the Fed needs to signal that it is serious about tackling inflation,” said Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.
- “The Fed is likely to bow to pressure and match market expectations with a hike of 75 basis points,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at City Index and FOREX.com. “If it doesn’t, and it is ‘only’ a 50 bp hike, then I would expect to see a sharp relief rally for risk assets and a drop in the dollar. That being said, any weakness for the greenback is likely to be short-lived. The Fed remains head-and-shoulders above other major central banks in terms of hawkishness.”
If recent history is any guide, the Fed meeting potentially offers a chance for stocks to enjoy a little rally. Over the past year, the S&P 500 moved higher after six out of eight Fed rate decisions. In January and March, stocks rose about 6% and 9% in the days following the central bank’s gatherings — rebounding from steep losses leading into the announcements.
On the economic front, US homebuilder sentiment slid to a two-year low in June as rising inflation and higher mortgage rates weighed on housing demand. Retail sales fell in May for the first time in five months, restrained by a plunge in auto purchases and other big-ticket items. A gauge of New York state manufacturing activity unexpectedly contracted for a second month in June, while a measure of inflationary pressures at producers picked up.
Elsewhere, the European Central Bank accelerated work on a new tool to combat unwarranted jumps in euro-area bond yields as markets strain at the prospect of the first rate increases in more than a decade. Following an emergency meeting Wednesday, convened after Italian yields surged to the highest since Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis, the Governing Council said it’s instructed committees to create a new instrument to tackle so-called fragmentation.
Meantime, Bitcoin tumbled again, driving the token to the brink of $20,000 as evidence of deepening stress within the crypto industry kept piling up.
Key events this week:
- Bank of England rate decision, Thursday.
- US housing starts, initial jobless claims, Thursday.
- Bank of Japan policy decision, Friday.
- Eurozone CPI, Friday.
- US Conference Board leading index, industrial production, Friday
What are the next levels for the pound? UK is the theme of this week’s MLIV Pulse survey. Click here to participate anonymously.
Some of the main moves in markets:
- The S&P 500 rose 0.8% as of 11:32 a.m. New York time
- The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.3%
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%
- The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1.5%
- The MSCI World index rose 0.7%
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1%
- The euro fell 0.1% to $1.0405
- The British pound rose 0.5% to $1.2060
- The Japanese yen rose 0.7% to 134.52 per dollar
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined seven basis points to 3.41%
- Germany’s 10-year yield declined 11 basis points to 1.65%
- Britain’s 10-year yield declined 12 basis points to 2.46%
- West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.1% to $117.67 a barrel
- Gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,823 an ounce