Following a recent string of soft data, Fed fund futures traders walked a fine line on Wednesday between preaching long-term patience on the part of the Federal Reserve and anticipating immediate inflationary help.
Markets were pricing in an 86.2% chance the Fed will keep the target rate at 2.00% at the Aug. 5 Federal Open Market Committee meeting, down slightly from 86.5% on Tuesday. A 13.8% chance for a 25bp hike was conversely priced in, up from Tuesday's 13.5%.
Looking forward to the Fed's December meeting, however, implied market probability, relative to its levels on Tuesday, shifted slightly towards the FOMC leaving rates unchanged.
With few data releases out of the U.S. on Wednesday, markets foresaw a 41.5% chance for at least a 25bp hike at the Sept. 16 meeting, down from Tuesday's 46.8%.
Similarly, implied market probability for a rate hike at the Dec. 16 meeting decreased as well. There was a 67.8% chance for a hike on Wednesday, compared to Tuesday's forecasted 74.7%. The story was slightly different regarding a simple 25bp hike. Markets were 44.2% priced in for such a year-end scenario, up from 43.5% a day ago.
Strategist Benjamin Cheng shared yet another possibility with clients in a UBS Investment Research note.
"It is worth reiterating that we do not believe the Fed will tighten before the end of the year," wrote Cheng, who, along with his colleagues, thought the Fed would not change interest rates at the upcoming meeting.
"Indeed, we expect that economic conditions will force the Fed back to the table to cut the Funds rate to 1.50% by year-end [a 25 basis point ease in October, followed by another in December]."
All data taken at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
By Ryan Szporer and edited by Sarah Sussman