Fed may join ECB in holding rate

Filed on April 25, 2016 | Last updated on April 25, 2016 at 07.48 am
Fed may join ECB in holding rate
The Fed, which lifted its benchmark overnight interest rate in December, meets on Wednesday.


Push for yet more stimulus could resume in Tokyo

The US Federal Reserve is set to join the ECB in holding policy steady when it meets in the coming week against a calmer market backdrop, while big economies report on how they fared in what was a volatile first quarter.

But the push for yet more stimulus could resume in Tokyo, where sources suggest the Bank of Japan may loosen already ultra-loose monetary conditions.

The Fed, which lifted its benchmark overnight interest rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade, meets on Wednesday, the day before Washington publishes its first estimate of first-quarter economic growth.

With the US economy constrained by a strong dollar, weak global demand and lower - albeit slightly recovering - oil prices, gross domestic product growth estimates for January to March are as low as a 0.2 per cent annualised rate.

That context has framed policy maker forecasts for only two more rate hikes this year and labour market strength - in the form of a 43-year low in unemployment benefits - is unlikely to move the Fed away from a path of gradual raising.

The key question is whether Wednesday's statement will give any indications that a June hike is being seriously considered.

In a Reuters poll published on Friday, economists held firm to expectations for a rise then and another by the end of this year.

"Will the Fed deliver the hoped-for hint? One should not expect a signal that is as clear as that given before the lift-off meeting in December," Commerzbank economists wrote in a note.

"At most, we expect it to "tighten" the statement somewhat, to prevent the markets writing off any further rate move."

With a first readout of eurozone GDP on Friday also expected to show no better than modest growth, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi issued his own version of steady-as-she-goes on Thursday.

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