The financial markets are taking Janet Yellen seriously.
In a speech yesterday the Fed chair strongly supported an interest rate increase at the Federal Reserve’s December 13 meeting. Coming along with comments from other Fed governors, the markets have decided that the Fed actually meant it when at its September meeting it laid out plans for a rate increase in December.
The odds of a December 13 interest rate increase, according to prices in the Fed Funds Futures market, have climbed to 81.4% today, September 27. That’s up from 72.5% odds on September 25 and from 37.8% odds back on August 25.
The odds of a interest rate increase at the November 1 meeting remain minuscule with the market giving a 98% chance of no change in rates at that meeting.
The Fed is giving all the signs that a Yellen Fed has adopted as a typical pattern in the run up to a rate increase: clear signals long in advance, follow up speeches from the Fed chair and other Fed officials stressing the likely move, and an eye on pushing odds of an interest rate increase in the Fed Funds Futures market above 60%. All these moves are intended to make sure that the bond markets aren’t surprised when the Fed does finally move.
The dollar rose with these expectations and gold dropped. The dollar touched a one-month high with the Dollar Spot Index hitting its high since August. The euro fell 0.6% on the dollar’s strength. Gold fell 0.9% to a five-week low at $1282.61 an ounce. Traders are suggesting that the fall in gold is limited by tensions with North Korea and the uncertainty that they generate in the financial markets.