Fed removes “patient”, and adds twists

Last Wednesday (March 18, 2015), the Federal Reserve released its statement on the monetary policy and its economic projections. The The Fed dropped from its guidance “patient” in reference to its approach to raising the federal funds rate. It was largely to be expected to be removed, which would have send U.S Dollar higher and U.S market lower. However, the opposite happened because of two twists; they lowered their economic projections, and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Janet Yellen’s words during the press conference.

According to the “dot plot”, the Fed lowered median “dot” for 2015 to 0.625% from 1.125% (December). What is “dot plot”? The Dot Plot is part of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC)’s economics projections and it shows what each member thinks the federal funds rate should be in the future. It is released quarterly. Sometimes, it might be released more than that, depending on economic circumstances. It gives you a perspective of what each member of FOMC thinks about economic and monetary conditions in the future.

Again, the Fed lowered median “dot” for the end of 2015 to 0.625% from 1.125% in December (-0.50%). The Fed also lowered the “dot” for end of 2016 and 2017. For the end of 2016, it is at 1.875% from 2.5% in December (-0.625%). For the end of 2017, it is at 3.125% from 3.625% in December (-0.50%). Besides, the “dot”, Yellen said one thing that took a toll on the U.S Dollar.

Even though the Fed removed “patient” from the statement, Yellen had “patient” tone during the press conference. Yellen said ““Just because we removed the word “patient” from the statement does not mean we are going to be impatient,”. This sentence alone halted US Dollar from rebounding after it dropped on the statement. There are other things that complicates the timing of the rate-hike.

It’s now more complicated to predict the Fed’s next move because of three reasons; very strong US Dollar, low inflation, and economic crisis in Europe and Japan, if not United Kingdom too. US Dollar is too strong, hurting U.S exports. Inflation has declined due to falling energy prices. The struggling foreign countries economically can also hurt U.S economy. I believe two majors factor of the Fed’s next move are the strong US Dollar, and the low inflation. When both of them are combined together, it makes imports cheaper and keeps inflation lower. I believe Europe will start to get better–as Quantitative Easing (QE) fully kicks in–money starts flowing in Europe. European stocks will probably hit new highs in the coming years because of QE program. Once, the Fed raises the rates, the money will probably flow into Europe from the U.S because of negative interest rates. Low rates have been a key driver of the bull markets in the U.S stock market the past six years. Lower rates makes stocks more attractive to the investors.

Since, the “dot” has dropped harshly, I believe this could be a sign of late delivery of rate hike. They might hike the interest rate in September, not June. However, if non-farm payrolls number continue to be strong, average wage (indicator for inflation) lifts and oil prices rebound, then the door for rate-hike for June might still be open. For now, there is no sign of oil rebounding since it has dropped sharply this week. We will get the next non-farm payroll, which also includes average wage, on April 3.

In the statement, FOMC stated “The Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent objective over the medium term. This change in the forward guidance does not indicate that the Committee has decided on the timing of the initial increase in the target range.”

The Fed want to be cautions before raising the interest rates. They want more time to be sure; “further improvement in the labor market” and “reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2 percent…” Although, non-farm payrolls have been strong lately, inflation is too low. The inflation is low because of the stronger dollar and the plunge in oil prices.

The Fed is in no hurry to increase the interest rate. The Fed said it would definitely not act on rates at “…April FOMC meeting.” and might wait until later in the year. I believe September has higher chance than June, from the rate-hike.

It looks to me that the Fed planned to send US Dollar lower. They probably wanted the US Dollar to be weaker before raising the rates, which could send the US Dollar a lot higher. Their plan worked. The US Dollar dropped so much that it sent EUR/USD (Euro against US Dollar) up 400 pips (above 1.10). U.S market rose after they were down ever since the release of non-farm payrolls for February. Dow gained over 200 points, as well as other indices.

 

Dow Jones (DJI) - 30 Mins
Dow Jones (DJI) – 30 Mins
US Dollar - 30 Mins
US Dollar – 30 Mins
EUR/USD - 30 Mins
EUR/USD – 30 Mins

 

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US Jobs Report for January 2015

Last Friday (February 6, 2015), US jobs report came out better than expected for prior month. Non-farm payrolls increased to 257,000 and the unemployment rose to 5.7% by 0.1% in January. Plus, data for November and December was “lifted”. November was revised from 353,00 to 423,000 (+70,000) and December was revised from 252,000 to 329,000 (+77,000). Over the past 3 months, U.S has created just over 1 million jobs, strongest since 1997. Only a negative side was the unemployment number. Unemployment number increased because labor force increased. The labor force participation rate rose by 0.2% to 62.9%, showing little more confidence in the jobs market. Average hourly earnings increased by 12 cents to $24.75, which took year-on-year gain to 2.2%, largest since August 2014.

Markets reactions to the report. See for yourself. If you have any questions, feel free to leave comments below.

S&P 500 - Hourly
S&P 500 – Hourly
US Dollar - Hourly
US Dollar – Hourly

 

USD/JPY - Hourly
USD/JPY – Hourly

 

Job gains took place in construction, financial activities, health care and manufacturing. It tells me that the economy is growing and businesses are hiring people for new projects. Businesses probably have positive cash flows to start new projects and hire people. Let’s hope that they are not taking debt that cannot be payed back.

When the rise in hourly wages are combined with lower oil prices, what do you get? People tend to have more money in their pockets. They can spend their money in anything such as retail, vacations, etc, which will increase the profits/revenues of the businesses. They can also pay down the debt that they may have such as student loans, mortgages, etc. Financial crisis in 2008 taught a lot of people lesson, to save money for unexpected emergencies. Young people are more likely to spend the money in areas like retail, entertainment and technology. New technologies tend to excite young people, such as drones.

Strong jobs reports increases the chance of interest-rate hike in June or earlier. Federal Reserve might wait for two more reports to get better sense of where economy is going. If FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) drops “patient” in its next meeting, there will be higher chance of rate hike in June. The US Dollar is already strong. If FOMC drops “patient”, it will be even more stronger, hurting exports.

I believe FOMC should try to weaken US Dollar before raising interest rate. Even more stronger dollar has the power to hurt exports. Sales of international companies in the U.S can decrease due to stronger dollar. If the US Dollar continues to strength, it can effect US economy is negative way. It will slowly spread.

Feel free to leave comments. Thank you.