Fed Meeting Preview: Economists Predict Steady Rates In June, Fewer Cuts Ahead

Zinger Key Points
  • The Fed is poised to keep rates at 5.25%-5.5% for the seventh straight meeting in June.
  • Following a strong May jobs report, market expectations for rate cuts have been revised downward.

The Federal Reserve is poised to keep the federal funds rate at 5.25%-5.5% for the seventh consecutive meeting in June, likely emphasizing that more time is needed to be confident that inflation will hit its target before contemplating any rate cuts.

The key focus for market participants will be on the Fed’s updated quarterly Summary of Economic Projections, which will provide fresh forecasts on growth, inflation, and the potential rate path.

In the March meeting, the “median dot” – which reveals the interest-rate preferred path by the median FOMC member – indicated three rate cuts in 2024, followed by three more in 2025 and two in 2026.

In the previous May 1 FOMC meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell suggested that interest rates could remain higher than previously thought, but also pushed back on fears of rate hikes, deeming them as “unlikely.” Stocks had an overall negative reaction, with the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY closing 0.3% lower on the day, while bonds, as gauged by the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT ended 0.7% higher.

Markets Revised Fed Cut Projections Lower After May Jobs Report

Recent economic data in the United States has revealed mixed signals, leading to significant fluctuations in Treasury yields and market-based interest rate expectations. Yet, following last Friday’s blowout jobs data, market participants have broadly lowered their expectations for interest rate cuts.

The Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) price index – the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation – eased in April after three months of elevated readings.

U.S. employers added 272,000 jobs in May, surpassing trend estimates, and wages also indicated a hotter-than-expected growth trend.

Market Expectations On Rate Cut

Current market expectations, as indicated by Fed futures, are pricing in a 15-basis-point cut by September 2024, suggesting an almost even chance between a cut and a hold.

Market participants anticipate one cut by year-end, pricing in a total of 40 basis points by December 2024, followed by one additional cut by the end of the first quarter of 2025. Overall, markets expect the Fed to implement four rate cuts by December 2025.

MonthMarket pricing# of rate cuts (fully priced)
September 202415 bps0
December 202440 bps1
March 202564 bps2
June 202586 bps3
September 2025104 bps4
December 2025118 bps4
Data: TradingView, as of June 10, 2024

Analysts’ Views On Rate Cuts

Bank of America’s chief economist, Michael Gapen, has one of the more hawkish views among analysts, forecasting only one Federal Reserve rate cut in December 2024, followed by four cuts in 2025. In a recent note, Gapen stated, “The strong jobs report reduced concerns about a broader economic slowdown.” He suggests that Powell will likely emphasize that economic activity and labor markets are cooling, and not overheating.

According to Gapen, inflation has delayed cuts, but the Federal Reserve has not altered its fundamental views.

Bank of America projects that the dot plot for 2024 will show a median rate of 4.75-5.0%, which means a shift from three to two projected cuts for this year.

They anticipate that the median member will still project three rate cuts for 2025, resulting in a 25 basis point increase for the median 2025 rate, bringing it to a range of 4.0-4.25%. For 2026, they expect the median dot to remain unchanged at 3.0-3.25%.

Goldman Sachs economist David Mericle adjusted his forecast from three to two rate cuts for 2024, indicating the Fed’s lack of urgency to speed up rate cuts.

At the June meeting, Goldman Sachs expects year-end core PCE inflation projections to rise to 2.8%, with little change in GDP growth and unemployment rate forecasts.

The dot plot is anticipated to show two cuts in 2024, down from three in March, and four cuts in 2025, up from three in March, while 2026 remains unchanged. The main risk is that only one cut might be forecasted for 2024 if the May core CPI print is significantly higher than expected.

In an interview with Market News, former Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard indicated that the Fed might consider only one or two rate cuts this year, instead of the three previously projected, due to slower-than-expected progress in reducing inflation.

Despite a strong May jobs report supporting higher rates, Bullard believes slight rate reductions would prepare the economy for rapid growth as inflation approaches the target. He mentioned that “lowering benchmark interest rates slightly” could still yield good outcomes and compared this to Alan Greenspan‘s rate adjustments in the 1990s.

Bullard also noted that rates might bottom around 3.5%, reflecting a shift to higher real interest rates from the 2009-2019 period.

Read now: Central Banks Are Cutting Interest Rates: Will The Fed Be The Next To Move?

Image generated using artificial intelligence via Midjourney.

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