Fed likely to raise rates in December but concerns mounting: minutes


"The market has already priced in 10 out of the 12 rate hikes that we expect". "We have to be thinking about how much further to raise rates and the pace at which we will raise rates".

After lift-off in December 2015 followed by a rise a year later, the central bank has since steadily raised benchmark rates and is widely expected to do so again in December.

The central bank chief said his colleagues and many other economists "are forecasting continued solid growth, low unemployment and inflation near 2 per cent".

Minutes of the November 7-8 meeting of the Fed's rate-setting body, the Federal Open Markets Committee, show that officials expressed concerns about a variety of threats, including the impact of tariffs, a slowing global economy and tightening financial conditions amid falling stock prices.

But Fed members agreed they would offer fewer signals about the future in their public statements, insisting, as Powell did this week, that they would instead monitor economic data and respond accordingly. "We still expect the Fed to hike rates twice in the first half of next year, before a slowdown in economic growth to below potential forces it to the side lines", Paul Ashworth, chief USA economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note.

"The messaging from the USA over the last four weeks has been characteristically erratic", said David Page, senior economist at AXA Investment Managers.

Minutes of the United States central bank's November 7-8 meeting showed "almost all participants" agreed that another rate hike would likely be necessary "fairly soon".

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But markets, especially after the recent selloff, were focused less on such subtleties than on what Powell may have telegraphed about the future path of rate hikes.

A few participants also expressed reservations about the timing of the next rate hike, suggesting that the benchmark rate - which determines the cost of borrowing on credit cards, mortgages and other loans - may now "be near its neutral level" and "further increases" could slow down the economy's expansion. "If US growth slows down next year, as expected, gold would benefit from higher demand", analysts including Jeffrey Currie said in a November 26 note that endorsed bullion as one of its top 10 trade ideas for commodities.

In what was seen as a shift in tone from remarks last month, Powell said Wednesday that the Fed's series of rate increases had brought policy to "just below" the range of estimates of neutral, where it neither spurs nor restricts the economy. And Powell's own communications plans to end each meeting with a news conference starting next year mean he needs a clear message for each meeting, starting next month. "Not even a little bit". He kept up his criticisms with Powell on Tuesday, saying rising interest rates have hurt the economy. "I think that's what we've been doing".

We also know that moving too slowly - keeping interest rates too low for too long - could risk other distortions in the form of higher inflation or destabilising financial imbalances. Three of those increases have been under Powell. Currently, the fed funds futures are pricing in an 83 percent chance of a December hike and one more in 2019.

"You're no longer on a forced march to neutrality, " he said.

"There is a great deal to like about this outlook", he added.