The Federal Reserve’s monetary policymakers no longer believe they will raise rates this year. But the market has gone further and is pricing in a rate cut in the latter half of 2019.
The Fed Funds futures market, where traders can place bets on where the Fed’s overnight interest rate target will be in the months ahead, now forecasts that the rate will be lower by the end of the year than it is now.
The market is currently pricing in a 96 percent chance that rates will be unchanged at 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent after the Fed’s May meeting, with a sliver of a chance of a cut and no chance of a hike. But traders have bid enough on contracts for the June meeting that they are forecasting a 25% chance of a cut by then, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool. By the July meeting, the odds rise to around a 33 percent for a cut.
The September meeting’s odds for a cut are 52.2 percent, which includes a non-trivial 11 percent chance of two cuts by that meeting. That rises to 57.7 percent for the October meeting and 66.6 percent for the December meeting. By January of 2020, the odds favor a cut by 74.1 to 25.9 percent.
This can be seen as the market agreeing with President Donald Trump’s claims last year that the Fed was too aggressive when it came to hiking rates. The Fed typically cuts rates in an effort to avoid or cut-short an economic slump, which means that traders in the Fed Funds Futures market are predicting a slower economy this year will prompt Fed action.