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December Fed rate-hike odds fall below 50% as Trump leads polls

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Swaps traders slashed wagers on a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike next month as a potential victory for Republican candidate Donald Trump raised the spectre of financial market volatility that may deter policy makers from tightening monetary policy.

[NEW YORK] Swaps traders slashed wagers on a Federal Reserve interest-rate hike next month as a potential victory for Republican candidate Donald Trump raised the spectre of financial market volatility that may deter policy makers from tightening monetary policy.

The market-implied chance of a December rate hike fell to as low as 47 per cent, based on US overnight indexed swaps that trade 24 hours a day. That compares to 82 per cent at 5pm in New York on Tuesday. The OIS-derived probability tends to be a few percentage points lower compared to calculations based on fed funds futures.

Treasuries surged on the prospects of a victory for Mr Trump, who's criticised officials from Fed Chair Janet Yellen to congressional leaders. Traders are less confident the US economy can withstand a rate hike under Mr Trump, who has vowed to rewrite economic policy, tear up existing US trade agreements and is seen by investors as less predictable than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

"If Trump wins, and - given the uncertainty that brings - if markets are volatile in early December and uncertain about what a Trump administration looks like, the Fed may hold off," said George Goncalves, the head of US rates research in New York at Nomura Holdings Inc.

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Fed policy makers had signalled that they were ready to raise rates next month after holding steady since liftoff from near zero in December. Their case grew more compelling after Labor Department data last week showed wages rose in October from a year earlier by the most since 2009, while employers added 161,000 positions, marking six straight years of monthly job gains.

Failing to raise rates at least once in 2016 may further undermine the Fed's credibility. After increasing them for the first time in almost a decade last December, policy makers forecast they'd tighten policy four times this year.

The prediction was slashed at subsequent meetings due to lacklustre economic growth at home and abroad, causing three voters to dissent in September in favour of a higher benchmark.

"The Fed has been very cognizant of trying to avoid adding to the market uncertainty when there are shocks," said Steven Englander, global head of Group-of-10 currency strategy in New York at Citigroup Inc, the world's biggest foreign-exchange trader.

"Given the kind of swings that we've seen in asset markets and the uncertainty that remains, I would say that they'll probably be cautious."

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