Fed Recap: ‘Some’What Dovish Hike Not Enough For Stocks

Source: FOREX.com

2) The Summary of Economic Projections

There were a couple of notable tweaks to the Fed’s quarterly economic forecasts. Most importantly, five of the potential Fed voters revised their 2019 interest rate forecasts lower, meaning that the median policymaker now expects just two rate hikes in 2019 (down from three at the September meeting). Now, the majority of Fed members (11/17) expect two or fewer interest rate increases next year.

On a macroeconomic front, the median Fed member’s forecast generally reflected a more cautious outlook for the economy in 2019:

  • GDP Growth now expected at 2.3% (from 2.5% in September)
  • Unemployment Rate expected at 3.5% (unchanged)
  • Core PCE inflation now expected at 2.0% (from 2.1%)

Finally, the longer run so-called “neutral” Fed Funds rate estimate dropped from 3.0 to 2.8%, suggesting that the median Fed member thinks we’re within two rate increases of a neutral level.

3) Fed Chair Powell’s Press Conference

Jerome Powell is still taking questions as we go to press, but so far his comments have reinforced the slight dovish tone of the statement and economic projections. He’s emphasized international crosswinds, tame inflation, and market volatility as possible risks, but noted that recent developments have not fundamentally altered the central bank’s outlook.

Powell also noted that the central bank has now reached the bottom end of estimates of the neutral interest rate, meaning the Fed will be more data-dependent than ever moving forward. Finally, the Fed Chairman expressed no concerns with the central bank’s “balance sheet runoff” (Trump’s so-called “50 B’s”), suggesting that the Fed will continue to tighten policy through asset holding reductions.

Market Reaction

As I speculated on twitter this morning, today’s “dovish hike” was not quite as dovish as many traders were expecting. As a result, we’ve seen the US dollar index bounce back 50 pips to trade back in positive territory on the day, while the S&P 500 has dropped 3% off its intraday peak to its lowest level since last September. A close here would mark a significant break below support in the 2530 range, potentially opening the door for further downside heading into the typically low liquidity holiday period.

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