Fed hikes 50 bp as expected, unveils balance sheet reductions

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May 4, 2022
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May 5, 2022

Fed hikes 50 bp as expected, unveils balance sheet reductions

By Syndicated Content

May 4, 2022 | 2:27 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest jump in 22 years, and said it would begin trimming its bond holdings next month as a further step in the battle to lower inflation.

The U.S. central bank set its target federal funds rate to a range between 0.75% and 1% in a unanimous decision, with further rises in borrowing costs of perhaps similar magnitude likely to follow.

MARKET REACTION:

STOCKS: The S&P 500 pared gains and was last up 0.28%

BONDS: The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield fell to 2.9676%, and the 2-year yield fell to 2.7684%

FOREX: The dollar index extended lower to -0.22%

COMMENTS:

ERIC WINOGRAD, SENIOR ECONOMIST, ALLIANCEBERNSTEIN, NEW YORK

“I would think that it shouldn’t rattle markets. I think the most noteworthy part of the statement was the addition of the sentence that says the committee is highly attentive to inflation risks, which just emphasizes the point. We knew that, but choosing to include that in the statement makes very clear which direction they are leaning when they look at the current environment. They are worried about inflation. That came on the heels of an acknowledgement of the supply chain disruptions in China, which are another risk in that direction.”

PETER CARDILLO, CHIEF MARKET ECONOMIST, SPARTAN CAPITAL SECURITIES, NEW YORK

“Most of what the Fed did today was expected. So I think this could give some breathing room in terms of the market to rally. Of course there’s still a question mark as to whether they will resort to a three-quarter-of-a-point hike. I don’t suspect that will be the case because I think we should begin to see inflation peak in the next month. So three quarters of a point is, as far as I’m concerned, out of the question. Basically the announcement was in line more or less with what the market was looking for. We have to wait to see when the press conference begins if Powell strikes an even more hawkish tone.”

MICHAEL BROWN, HEAD OF MARKET INTELLIGENCE, CAXTON, LONDON

“To nobody’s surprise, the Fed delivered their first 50 bps hike since 2000; it was, however, a little surprising that outspoken uber-hawk Bullard didn’t vote for a larger increase. Commentary on the balance sheet was also broadly in line with expectations, having been teed up in the March minutes,”

“The FOMC also signaled an aggressive path of further rate hikes, reiterating the recently stated desire to raise rates to their neutral level as soon as possible. However, given the significant amount of hikes already priced into the market – the 2-year trades around 30 bps north of neutral, for instance – the bar for a hawkish surprise was always a high one.”

“Hence, although hawkish in its own right, the decision is somewhat dovish compared to the market’s lofty expectations, thereby igniting a rally in risk assets, causing the USD to soften a touch, a classic ‘buy the rumor, sell the fact’ trade, while also sparking demand for Treasuries,”

PAUL NOLTE, PORTFOLIO MANAGER, KINGSVIEW ASSET MANAGEMENT, CHICAGO

“The markets, as a whole, are looking at is as expected. It’s not more hawkish than expected. (The Fed is) hewing to the middle ground. No big surprise in the balance sheet work-down. It’s agreeable to markets at this point.”

“Now the information is out there. The guessing is done and people who positioned themselves for a certain outcome, once it happens, can step aside. Now the discussion turns to ‘what’s going to happen at the next meeting?’ That’s the jockeying that’s going on now. The news is out, what does that mean to expectations moving forward?”

“I don’t know what (the Fed is) talking about in terms of (balance sheet) runoff. What’s going to happen, is people are going to extrapolate that at this pace it will be unwound in the next three or four years, whatever it is, and that’s what everyone is trying to assess.”