Fed Funds Futures Reflect a 43% Chance of No Rate Hike in March
Traders of futures linked to the Federal Reserve’s policy rate have trimmed their expectations of a quarter-percentage point rate hike at the upcoming policy meeting, likely due to a recent cooldown in consumer prices and banking turmoil. The CME FedWatch tool now predicts a 56.8% chance of a 25 basis points (bps) rate increase and a 43.2% chance of the Fed completely forgoing a rate hike this month.
CME FedWatch Tool Evenly Divided on Fed Rate Hike Decision
Fed funds futures prices reflected a roughly 50% chance of a 25 basis points (bps) interest rate hike, and a 50% chance of no hike at all, according to the CME FedWatch Tool. A day earlier, futures were pricing at a 70% chance of a quarter-percentage point rate increase at the upcoming Federal Reserve policy meeting.
The tweak comes after the new consumer price index (CPI) reading showed that the annual inflation rate fell to 6% in February, in line with analysts’ expectations. The drop marked the slowest annualized jump since September 2021, offering much-needed comfort for US consumers.
Meanwhile, the latest issues at the Swiss lender Credit Suisse refueled worries about a potential banking crisis, which emerged last week following the historic collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank (SBV). The California-based bank sustained a major run, forcing the US regulators to intervene and close down the bank to prevent further fallout.
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Goldman Sachs Believes Fed Won’t Raise Rates in March
The Fed implemented two 25 bps rate increases this year. Before the SBV collapse, the US central bank chairman Jerome Powell hinted at a potentially more aggressive hike this month due to vital jobs and wages data.
But the recent developments made the rate hike decision much more complex. Economists said the unforeseen banking crisis could urge the Fed, and other global central banks, to forgo rate hikes this month as an increasing number of signs of financial stress seems to be linked to hawkish increases in borrowing costs over the past year.
While the fed funds futures priced in a roughly equal chance of a 25 bps rate increase and or no hike at all, wall street giants, including Goldman Sachs believe the Fed will opt for the latter due to “recent stress” in the financial sector. The bank’s analysts, who also previously predicted a 25 bps increase, said they “no longer expect the FOMC to deliver a rate hike at its next meeting on March 22.”
Do you agree with Goldman analysts’ views that recent turmoil will force the Fed to forgo rate hikes this month? Let us know in the comments below.