The Federal Reserve is certainly behaving like it will raise interest rates another 25 basis points at the June 14 meeting of the Open Market Committee. The U.S. central bank raised its target for the Fed funds rate to 0.75%-1% at its March meeting.
The financial markets are currently convinced that the Fed plans to raise interest rates in June. The CME Fed Watch calculations show the Fed funds futures market has priced in an 83% chance of an interest rate increase in June.
If the Fed thought the financial markets were getting ahead of themselves, Fed officials would be trying to talk down those odds. The Fed never likes to surprise the financial markets.
But instead recent speeches from Fed officials have buttressed the case for an interest rate increase by stressing the strength of the job market, the underlying upward trend in inflation, and the resilience of the financial markets themselves. In fact many of these speeches have made it sound like the Fed has already moved on from the issue of the timing of the next interest rate increase to the debate over when and how aggressively to shrink the Fed’s huge portfolio of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.
The Fed’s calendar also argues, as the financial market well knows, in favor of a June 14 move. The Fed likes to announce moves in interest rates at meetings with scheduled press events. There’s one on the calendar for June 14. None is scheduled for the Fed’s July meeting. And since the Fed isn’t scheduled to meet at all in August, skipping June would mean either breaking with the scheduled press event preference or waiting until the September 20 meeting. That’s a very long time to wait if the Fed is looking to raise interest rates three times in 2017.
In trading this morning he Dollar Index moved back above its 200-day moving average. The euro had slipped to set up a test of its 200-day moving average. The yen was also lower to test key support at 115 to the U.S. dollar. And the yuan had declined to 6.91 to the dollar, the lowest level since March 9.
These currencies, in other words, are also voting for an increase in U.S. interest rates.