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NEW YORK: Jerome Powell could deliver a hawkish surprise on Wednesday even after effectively pre-announcing 50-basis-point interest-rate increases at the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) meeting this week and in July.
May’s red-hot inflation print hardened expectations the Fed would keep raising borrowing costs at that pace through September, with some investors betting the Fed chair will deliver a super-sized 75-basis-point move unless price pressures cool.
Powell could reinforce that speculation during his post-meeting press conference by declining to take 75 basis points off the table – as he explicitly did last month by stating such a move wasn’t being actively considered – or by emphasising the need for nimble policy to cool surging prices.
Data released Friday hammered home the message that the US central bank has a lot of work still to do in containing price pressures. Consumer prices excluding food and energy rose 8.6% in the 12 months through May, quickening to a fresh 40-year high.
Traders following the data release saw even odds of the Fed raising rates by three-quarters of a percentage point in July, while economists at Barclays Plc changed their rate call to expect such a hike as soon as this week.
The central bank’s updated quarterly projections will also likely steepen the expected path of future hikes and eventual peak. Officials in March saw rates reaching 1.9% this year and peaking at 2.8%, according to the median estimate.
A survey of Bloomberg economists – conducted before publication of May’s consumer price data – saw the projections advancing to 2.6% this year and 3.1% in 2023.
The Fed will be the highlight in a big week for central banks. The next day, the Bank of England (BoE) will also probably hike rates and is likely to debate a half-point move, and on Friday the Bank of Japan (BoJ) will take its own decision at a time when the weakness of the yen is proving increasingly hard to stomach.
Below is our wrap of what else is coming up in the global economy.
In a key week for central bank action, the BoJ meets Friday to decide on policy. Even with the yen languishing at two-decade lows as the Fed prepares to hike US borrowing costs, governor Haruhiko Kuroda is widely expected to stick with rock-bottom interest rates.
But the trajectory of the yen over the course of the coming days could make the BoJ’s position increasingly awkward.
On the data front, readings on China’s retail spending, industrial output and investment on Wednesday should show the economy is beginning to claw out of the Covid-lockdown affected slump in April, though the May numbers are likely to remain downbeat.