Feds Hold Steady On Rates, No Hints On When Cuts May Occur

By PATRICK LAVERY Predicted by both the experts and projection tools alike, the Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday decided to maintain its target range for the federal funds rate at 5.25% to 5.5%, the sixth consecutive meeting at which the key rate has gone unchanged following a year and a half’s worth of increases. In prepared remarks, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell echoed previous statements over the past eight months in which he indicated that inflation continues to move too slowly, at least for the Fed’s liking, toward its ultimate goal of 2% to warrant any shift – although according to the data Powell provided, that may be more within reach than previously thought. Total Personal Consumption Expenditures prices…

Rate Watchers To Keep Close Eye On The Fed

By PATRICK LAVERY After a swift acceleration of more than five percentage points in about a year and a half, starting in early 2022, could the Federal Reserve Board keep its policy interest rate in a holding pattern for close to a year? That appears likely, as with no change since last summer, most experts feel the Fed is poised to keep the key rate steady – at a range of 5.25% to 5.5% – when the Federal Open Market Committee emerges from its next two-day summit on Wednesday. CME Group’s FedWatch tool has been a valuable resource for Fed meeting predictions in recent months, and once again, its degree of confidence that the Fed will stand pat this week…

Fed Not Likely To Cut Rates Anytime Soon

By PATRICK LAVERY Kicking the can down the road, moving the goalposts – whatever idiom you want to use – such an expression will likely be appropriate for this week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, which appears poised to hold the target range for the federal funds rate steady at 5.25% to 5.5%. While that margin has not been raised since last summer, there has been hope that at some point in 2024, Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell will come to the microphone at the conclusion of one of the FOMC’s two-day summits and announce the beginning of a rollback of the series of rate hikes that steadily climbed from near-zero in early 2022 to their current…

Powell Responds To Legislative Pressure As Feds Hold Rates Steady

By PATRICK LAVERY Saying the economy has surprised even the experts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly four years ago, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday announced that the Fed would hold its ground for now and keep its policy interest rate unchanged at its current range of 5.25% to 5.5%. “We believe that our policy rate is likely at its peak for this tightening cycle and that, if the economy evolves broadly as expected, it will likely be appropriate to begin dialing back policy restraint at some point this year,” Powell said in prepared remarks following the first two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting of 2024. The decision by the FOMC was not unexpected, and…

Predictions: Rate Cuts Unlikely This Week

By PATRICK LAVERY Seven weeks ago, the 2023 slate of policy meetings for the Federal Open Market Committee concluded with members voting to leave the key interest rate unchanged for a third straight time. However, anyone hoping that 2024 will begin with some movement in a downward direction is likely to be disappointed this week. Despite a seemingly positive economic outlook that has the stock market soaring to record highs, the experts seem to agree that there will be no change made when Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell emerges from the FOMC meeting on Wednesday. The stability, so to speak, of the Fed’s policy interest rate has been mirrored somewhat in the housing market recently. According to Freddie Mac,…

Fed Holds Rates Steady As Expected

By PATRICK LAVERY Saying he and the Federal Open Market Committee were “proceeding carefully,” Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell announced that they voted unanimously Wednesday to leave its policy interest rate unchanged for a third straight meeting. This ensures that after more than a year of incremental hikes that eventually saw the key rate spike 5 1/4 percentage points dating back to the beginning of 2022, the target range will, for now, remain at 5.25% to 5.5%. Most experts do not expect the FOMC to start bringing the rate back down again until the third quarter of 2024, owing that to Powell and the Fed’s continuing mandate to bring inflation down to 2%. Total Personal Consumption Expenditures prices rose…

Projections For Monetary Policy Show No Rate Changes

By PATRICK LAVERY Americans were just putting away their families’ Halloween costumes the last time the Federal Reserve Board made an announcement on monetary policy, holding the federal funds rate at a range of 5.25% to 5.5%. Now the nation is well past Thanksgiving and fully focusing on the holiday season and the new year ahead. But even as the seasons change, most experts expect the Fed to once again refrain from taking any action at this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, slowing a trend of 11 rate hikes since early 2022. The CME Group’s FedWatch, a forecast of interest rates based on Fed funds futures trading indicators, currently hedges a 98.4% chance that the FOMC will vote to…

Fed’s Decision To Hold Steady Welcome News In Mortgage World

By PATRICK LAVERY As experts almost unanimously predicted, the Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday held its target range for the federal funds rate at 5.25% to 5.5%, meaning after a year and a half of upheaval, the range will approach the end of 2023 not having budged for more than a third of this year, from the last rate hike at the end of July until at least the Federal Open Market Committee’s next meeting two weeks before Christmas. That may belie the fact that the Fed has raised the rate a total of 5 1/4 percentage points since early 2022, but for now, the stability is welcome news – at least in the housing market. “Mortgage rates fell this…

Watching And Waiting For The Fed’s Next Move

By PATRICK LAVERY When the Federal Open Market Committee meets this week analysts will be looking for signs of what’s next and it may be anyone’s guess. At the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention and expo in Philadelphia this month, MBA Chief Economist Michael Fratantoni told attendees that they expect the Feds will maintain the federal funds rate target range and do not expect an increase from them again this year. Fratantoni projected there will be at least two cuts in 2024, and possibly more in 2025. But then Patrick Harker, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, took the stage the next day and said rates may have to stay high in order for them…

Rate Hike Pause Predicted, Investors Watching Closely For End Of Year Indicators

By PATRICK LAVERY With the end of the third quarter of 2023 in sight, indications are that the Federal Reserve will pause hiking its federal funds rate this week – as it did in June before again raising the target range in July – and investors will be watching closely on Wednesday to see if Chairman Jerome Powell gives any indication as to what they might do to end the calendar year. The FOMC’s course of action, while holding no direct bearing on mortgage rates, acts as a strong indicator of what direction those rates will go in next. According to Business Insider, a pause on the part of the Fed won’t do much to move mortgage rates, currently above…