Markets increase bets for fourth rate hike this year after Fed statement

Jerome Powell looks on after a swearing-in ceremony February 5, 2018 at the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC.

Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters
Jerome Powell looks on after a swearing-in ceremony February 5, 2018 at the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC.

Markets increased their expectations for a fourth interest rate hike this year after the Federal Reserve released its statement and economic projections on Wednesday.

Fed funds futures showed the odds for a hike in December, which would follow one likely in September, rose to 58 percent, according to traders. That’s up from around 50 percent odds the futures prices reflected prior to the afternoon release of the Fed’s statement and economic projections.

On Wednesday, the central bank raised its benchmark short-term interest rate by 25 basis points for the second time this year, up to a 1.75 percent to 2 percent range.

The median forecast in the “dot plot” of policymaker expectations for interest rates this year rose to 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent, up from a previous median projection of 2 percent to 2.25 percent.

The increase indicates two more interest rate hikes are likely this year.

That said, the change in the median forecast from the “dot plot” was the result of an increase by one Fed member’s estimates to 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent.

“It’s not fully priced for the second [additional] hike yet,” said Lee Ferridge, North American head of macro strategy for State Street Global Markets. “It’s a pretty rosy picture [Fed Chair Jerome Powell has] given right now, so maybe this is the peak. It has that potential.”

Treasury yields rose after the Fed statement release, with the rate-sensitive 2-year yield climbing to its highest since 2008. The 10-year yield briefly hit 3 percent but was off that level and trading near 2.98 percent Wednesday afternoon.

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