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3 key takeaways from Powell's press conference; 5 analysts discuss next steps

As widely expected, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) lifted its benchmark rate to a 5.25-5.5% range.

This way, the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate to the highest level in 22 years.

"The committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook," the Fed said in a prepared statement.

The July hike came after the Fed decided to pause in June and after the most recent inflation data showed that the price growth is slowing more than expected. On the other hand, the U.S. economy grew faster than expected in the first quarter.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell left the door open for another rate hike at the next policy meeting scheduled for September.

"It is certainly possible we would raise the funds rate at the September meeting if the data warranted, and I would also say it's possible that we would choose to hold steady at that meeting" if that's what the data called for, Powell said.

He reiterated the Fed’s stance to monitor incoming data and make its decisions on a meeting-by-meeting basis. Speaking about the June CPI print, he said that it is "only one report in one month's data."

"We hope that inflation will follow a lower path, consistent with the June CPI reading," he added. "But we don't know that and we're going to need to see more data."

Key takeaways and what analysts are saying

Overall, the 3 key takeaways from Powell’s press conference include:

  1. The Fed won’t be slashing rates this year;

  2. The Fed staff is no longer projecting a recession;

  3. The Chair doesn’t see inflation back to the Fed’s target of 2% until about 2025.

Here’s what 5 Wall Street analysts have to say about yesterday’s decision, Powell’s press conference, and the next Fed steps.

Wells Fargo: “Despite Fed rhetoric, the market indicates the Fed is now done tightening. We believe that is true for now, but with a resilient consumer/improving confidence and an elusive recession, inflation may rise again in 2023.”

Danske Bank: “Overall, with few new policy signals, we make no changes to our Fed call, and still think today marked the end of the rate hiking cycle. We expect the upcoming inflation releases to continue signalling cooling underlying inflation, and track the July Core CPI close to the June print around 0.2% m/m. With excess savings soon depleted and credit conditions still tightening, the balance of risks for the economic outlook remains tilted to the downside despite the most recent encouraging data.”

Erste Group: “The coming weeks until the next FOMC meeting could be volatile. The markets could change their opinion several times about the outcome if the economic data do not show a clear picture by then, which is to be expected. Without a doubt, however, the inflation data will play a very important role. We expect further indications of weaker price pressure here, which is why the probability of unchanged interest rates in September currently predominates for us.”

Citi: “Our base case includes a final 25bp hike in November. Upside risk to core inflation later this year and into 2024 raises the risk that Fed officials either raise policy rates further or keep them higher for longer than markets anticipate.”

Bank of America: “We retain our view for one more 25bp rate hike at the September FOMC meeting for a terminal target range of 5.50-5.75%... The market likely expected a slightly more hawkish tone from Chair Powell that pushed back on rate cuts in early 2024 and the recent easing of financial conditions. The lack of hawkish basis and Chair Powell’s data-dependent and balanced assessment seemingly supported the rate decline… For the most part, the overall policy communication appeared neutral.”

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