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Powell: Fed inflation fight "has a long way to go"

Published 21/06/2023, 11:17 pm
© Reuters. People shop in a supermarket as rising inflation affected consumer prices in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., June 10, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve's fight to lower inflation back to its 2% target "has a long way to go," Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday in testimony prepared for delivery to the House Financial Services Committee.

Investors broadly expect increases to resume at the Fed's July meeting, after the Fed last week paused a 15-month hiking cycle.

The hearing is the first of two Capitol Hill appearances this week as part of his twice-yearly reports to federal lawmakers, is set to begin at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT).

After five percentage points of rate hikes the Fed has approved since March of 2022, the decision not to raise rates last week was taken as a "prudent" step that would "allow the Committee to assess additional information and its implications for monetary policy," Powell said.

MARKET REACTION:

STOCKS: S&P 500 e-mini futures held losses and were off 0.26%

BONDS: U.S. Treasury 10-year note yields ticked lower after the remarks, and were at 3.763%. Two-year yields ticked up to 4.737%

FOREX: The euro turned 0.04% firmer and the dollar index paired a small gain

COMMENTS:

RICK MECKLER, PARTNER, CHERRY LANE INVESTMENTS, NEW VERNON, NEW JERSEY

    The Fed is "walking a tight rope between trying to tell people they are going to fight inflation as their number 1 priority and yet not pushing the market so far as to create problems in the banking system and just a general feeling that things are in bad shape.

    "The reality is that they are somewhat limited into how far they can raise rates from here. It's already having a lot of unintended negative consequences. Stock prices and housing prices continue to rise and that in itself can be inflationary.

    “I expect them to continue to send these messages that they don’t think inflation fight is over. But I'm not sure their actions are going to match the rigor in which they complain about the inflation fight."

    "We could be due for some consolidation. Investors forget that market tends to look significantly ahead so it's discounting the end of the rate hike period. Inflation, if it's manageable, is not necessarily negative for stocks. I'd expect to see some disappointment in some of the economic growth numbers during the year leading to at least of consolidation of stock prices. I think it's starting to put a curb on how far we can go. It depends how far Powell is willing to go and that could cap some upside on what has been a great year for stocks."

STEVEN RICCHIUTO, U.S. CHIEF ECONOMIST, MIZUHO SECURITIES USA LLC, NEW YORK

“It’s not enough to change (what the market thinks) because the Sep doesn’t change. They keep on making the same mistake. They tell you one thing but then what they put in print is a different story. They still have 100 basis points of rate reductions coming next year and they have a benign, very, very, very optimistic Summary of Economic Projections.

“If the dots still have 100 basis points worth of cuts in the Summary of Economic Projections, everything is rosy. So that’s what people are paying attention to, ignoring what he verbally says. The models work off what’s in print, not what he says, because what he says will not change their minds tomorrow.

“They’re talking out of two sides of their mouths. The market has decided to listen to one. The equity market is priced for the nominal GDP that the Fed is predicting. Markets are rationale. They’re irrational for not understanding what you’re telling them: You can’t over there, or I’ll punish you. You’re misbehaving, but I’m going to leave you a piece of candy.”

PETER CARDILLO, CHIEF MARKET ECONOMIST, SPARTAN CAPITAL SECURITIES, NEW YORK

"Stocks are going to stabilize because Powell is not going to divert from what he said at the press conference last week. The Fed is going to be hawkish until inflation reaches 2%. The market knows this is not attainable within two years. We probably won’t see 2% inflation for four years unless the Fed gets overly aggressive and pulls a Volcker, and that’s not in the cards.

"The Fed is playing tough talk, they want to reassure the markets that they’re serious about bringing down inflation.

"If the June and July inflation numbers come in lower, there’s a chance the Fed will skip in July as well.

"We’ve had some strong (economic) indicators. But the numbers are uneven. Going into the summer months, if the high cost of money, of financing, begins to limit consumer spending, then we’ll be in recession.

"I think the Fed is keeping this tough talk going because they don’t want the markets to get over enthusiastic."

HUGH JOHNSON, CHIEF ECONOMIST, HUGH JOHNSON ECONOMICS, ALBANY, NEW YORK

  "If there's a right word to describe Federal Reserve policy currently, it might just be confusion."

"It's very difficult for him (Powell) to be very definitive because what the Federal Reserve does will depend on the data we see between now and the July meeting and between the July meeting and the September meeting."

© Reuters. People shop in a supermarket as rising inflation affected consumer prices in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., June 10, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

ROBERT PAVLIK, SENIOR PORTFOLIO MANAGER, DAKOTA WEALTH FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT"The market is on edge as to what Powell's going say in his testimony. Many have said that it's (policy tightening) too much in too short a period of time and what you're seeing is parts of the market trying to test the recent gains and see if they'll hold."

  "I see higher interest rates for a fairly longer period of time perhaps going more than just July. Anybody banking on an interest rate cut in 2023 will be rethinking and pricing that into their models. I don't think that a rate cut is coming in 2023 and anybody that's thinking that is misdirected."

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