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Minutes from Fed's May meeting to show members leaning hawkish: BofA

Published 18/05/2024, 04:46 am
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Investing.com -- The hawkish tone is likely to be the big takeaway from the minutes of the Federal Reserve's meeting due next week, with debate among members around whether the current level of interest rates likely to be a hot topic.      

"The minutes from the May FOMC meeting should sound more hawkish on the margin than Chair Powell's press conference," BofA said in a Friday note. 

At the May Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Fed members voted to keep rates unchanged and Powell, at the press conference that follow the decision, suggested that the next move is unlikely to be a rate hike.  

“I think it’s unlikely that the next policy rate move will be a hike. I’d say it’s unlikely,” Powell said at the FOMC press conference on May 1.

In the wake of concerns that disinflation could be stalling however, others on the committee were "more concerned about whether policy was doing enough," BofA added. "Hence, the tone of the minutes may come off slightly more hawkish."

But recent data -- including the April consumer inflation data showing a more rapid slowing in price pressures than expected and April retail sales that came in softer than expected -- indicate that the "bar for hikes is high, though cuts are still a way off."

About 50% of traders expect the Fed to cut rates in September, according to Investing.com's Fed Rate Monitor Tool.

While signs of slowing inflation were welcomed, services inflation is still running too hot, but that not only points to signs of "robust" demand, BofA says, but knocks back some concerns that stagflation could be resurfacing."

"We reject it [the stagflation narrative]," BofA added, we see signs that services inflation is being driven by robust demand."

In the weeks that followed the Apr.30 - May 1 meeting, Fed members have been adamant that rates will have to remain higher for longer to ensure inflation is on sustainable path toward slowing to the 2% target, while others haven't a ruled out a possible hike. 

Fed Gov. Bowman said on Friday that she would be willing to back a hike if disinflation stalls, or reverses, added that she was monitoring data to evaluate whether policy was sufficiently restrictive. 

“While the current stance of monetary policy appears to be at a restrictive level, I remain willing to raise the target range for the federal funds rate at a future meeting should the incoming data indicate that progress on inflation has stalled or reversed,” Bowman said.

Others, however, while less vocal about the potential for hike, echoed the current wait and see approach from the Fed to gauge whether slowing inflation in the April report would continue in the months ahead.  

While acknowledging that the Fed isn't yet there on its goal to bring inflation down to 2%, Atlantic Fed President Raphael Bostic said Thursday that his current outlook is for an ongoing fall in inflation, which would make appropriate to cut rates later in the year, but cautioned that nothing is locked in.

"I now believe that it will take longer to reach our 2% goal than I previously thought," St. Louis Federal Reserve president said Thursday, adding that further monitoring of incoming data will be needed. 

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