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Powell addresses House stressing data dependency before making decisions

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Today Chairman Jerome Powell finished his semiannual congressional testimony. The chairman warned that the Fed could be more aggressive because "The latest economic data have come in stronger than expected, which suggests that the ultimate level of interest rates is likely to be higher than previously anticipated."

In yesterday’s testimony, he opened the door for a 50-BPS rate hike at the upcoming March FOMC meeting (March 21 – 22).

 “If the totality of the data were to indicate that faster tightening is warranted, we would be prepared to increase the pace of rate hikes."

According to the CME’s FedWatch, the probability of a more aggressive rate hike of 50-BPS has increased since yesterday from 70.5% to 79.4% today, diminishing the  probability of a 25-BPS hike from 29.5% to 20.6%.

However, Powell stressed the fact that the Federal Reserve will not make any final decision about the size of a potential interest rate hike until data from Friday’s jobs report and next Tuesday’s CPI report have been released.

“We have not made any decision about the March meeting. We’re not going to do that until we see the additional data.” Adding that, “We will be guided by the incoming data and the evolving outlook.”

Today ADP released its US private payroll report revealing that an additional 242,000 private sector jobs were added last month. Currently, it is forecasted that Labor Department’s jobs report on Friday will show an additional 203,000 to 225,000 jobs added to the payroll last month. Additionally, economists expect the unemployment rate to rise from 3.4% in January to 3.5% in February.

Early forecasts from next week’s Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index for February are expected to show a modest decrease in inflation down 0.1% month over month. If correct this would take the monthly gain in February to 0.4% a decrease from January which revealed headline inflation increased by 0.5%.

The extreme volatility resulting in a sharp decline in gold and increase of value in the dollar index yesterday has abated. This is as market participants along with the Federal Reserve wait for the release of these next two critical reports from the government.

As of 5:00 PM EST, gold futures basis most active April contract is down $2.00 Or 0.11% and fixed at $1818. The dollar is up 0.08% and the dollar index is fixed at 105.68.

Wishing you as always good trading,

Gary S. Wagner - Executive Producer