The Federal Reserve’s decision today to hike its policy rate by 25 basis points (bps) to a range of 1.75% to 2.0% was widely expected. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) also signaled growing consensus that the robust pace of economic activity warrants two more rate hikes this year, for a total of four in 2018.
U.S. core Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation was softer than consensus expectations in April, and the year-over-year rate remained stable at 2.1%. We see a couple of reasons for that, and continue to expect core CPI inflation to accelerate further (to 2.3%–2.4%) before settling back to 2.2% by year-end.
How sensitive is the U.S. economy to rising oil prices? A popular view is that growing U.S. energy output has largely immunized the economy against the adverse effects of pricier oil.
With little in the recent economic data to warrant a change in the U.S. outlook and bond markets that were largely aligned with the Federal Reserve’s 2018 rate hike projections, today’s statement from the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) needed only to reaffirm the messages conveyed at the March meeting.
The acceleration in U.S. core Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation in March was in line with expectations, and likely a welcome development for Federal Reserve officials after a surprising string of soft inflation prints last year.
The minutes of the March 2018 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting affirmed our outlook that the Fed will likely continue to gradually and methodically increase interest rates and that the bar is relatively high for policymakers to change the current plan for two or three more hikes in 2018.
Consistent with our view last month that the Trump administration’s more significant (and market-moving) trade actions had yet to come, the recent announcement of tariffs on Chinese products related to the Section 301 intellectual property investigation has roiled markets and increased uncertainty over the possibility of a trade war.
The U.S. Federal Reserve’s announcement of another 25 basis point hike in the fed funds rate range to 1.5% to 1.75% was widely expected by us and by markets. The more interesting aspect of the March FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting is the change to central bank officials’ forecasts.
We believe the trade actions with the most significant potential economic and market impact have yet to unfold.
We saw little to surprise in February’s U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation print: Core CPI (excluding food and energy prices) gained 0.18% month-over-month, a moderation from January’s 0.34% gain, and held steady at 1.8% year-over-year.