The Federal Reserve’s rate decision on Wednesday is all but a done deal, so that leaves Chair Jerome Powell’s language and the central bank’s dot plot of future policy as the main focus.
The world’s most powerful central banker has a tightrope to walk, with Tuesday’s U.S. inflation print doing little to alter views for the timing of rate cuts next year.
Some investors are hoping Christmas comes early in the form of a Fed pivot, and Wall Street on Tuesday notched fresh 2023 highs
It’s up to Powell then to convince markets – or not – that it is “premature to conclude” that the Fed’s job is done.
Market pricing shows a 75% chance of a cut in May, according to the CME FedWatch tool, and analysts at Goldman Sachs over the weekend brought forward their forecast of a first cut to the third quarter of next year from the fourth quarter previously.
In Asia, China said it will step up policy adjustments to support an economic recovery in 2024 following an agenda-setting meeting of the country’s top leaders, though those signals failed to excite investors and Chinese stocks declined .CSI300.
Still, with all eyes on Powell, tonight’s events could be make or break for world stocks .MIWD00000PUS, which are up more than 1% for the month thus far.
December has historically been a good period for stocks, save for last year where the MSCI world equity index lost 4% and 2018, when it fell 7% during the month. The Fed hiked rates four times that year.
The European Central Bank (ECB), the Bank of England (BoE), the Swiss National Bank and Norges Bank are next in line after the Fed, with steady outcomes expected for all on Thursday, though by just a margin for Norway.
ECB hawk Isabel Schnabel told Reuters last week the central bank can take further interest rate hikes off the table given a “remarkable” fall in inflation, while British wage growth slowed by the most in almost two years, welcome news for the BoE.
Investors will first have to cross Wednesday’s hurdle before knowing if policymakers across the globe will take cues from the Fed.
The ball’s in Powell’s court.
Key developments that could influence markets on Wednesday:
– UK GDP estimates (October)
– Euro zone industrial production (October)
– Federal Reserve policy decision
(By Rae Wee. Editing by Sam Holmes)