The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, bringing the benchmark funds rate to 5% to 5.25%. In its post-meeting statement, the central bank appeared to soften its language on future rate increases, removing a line on “additional policy firming.” In his press conference, however, Chair Jerome Powell noted that the policy-setting committee thinks it will take time for inflation to come down and it would not be appropriate to cut rates.
Stocks turn lower
The major averages turned lower following Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s press conference.
Investors seemed to have turned their attention to Powell’s comment that the rate-setting committee has “a view that inflation is going to come down not so quickly.”
“It will take some time, and in that world, if that forecast is broadly right, it would not be appropriate to cut rates and we won’t cut rates,” he said.
As of 3:45 p.m., the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 245 points, the Nasdaq was lower by about 0.3% and the S&P 500 was down 0.5%.
The run on SVB was ‘out of keeping’ with history, Fed Chair Powell says
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the run on Silicon Valley Bank was historically unprecedented and will need to be addressed by regulators in the future.
“The run on Silicon Valley Bank was out of keeping with the speed of runs through history. And that now needs to be reflected in some way in regulation and in supervision,” Powell said.
“I’m not aware of anybody thinking that this could happen quite so quickly. … It will be up to Vice Chair [Michael S.] Barr to really take the lead in designing the ways to address them,” he added.
— Sarah Min
Powell says it may be too soon to cut rates
If Federal Reserve members are correct, it may take some time for rate cuts to seem plausible, said Chair Jerome Powell.
“We on the committee have a view that inflation is going to come down not so quickly,” he said. “It will take some time, and in that world, if that forecast is broadly right, it would not be appropriate to cut rates and we won’t cut rates.”
He added that demand and labor market conditions will likely need to weaken some more to see progress within non-housing services and deem rate cuts “appropriate.”
— Samantha Subin
Cooling labor market points to possibility of avoiding recession, Powell says
The initial signs of weakness in the labor market suggest that the path to a “soft landing” for the U.S. economy is not off the table, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said.
“There are no promises in this, but it just seems to me that it’s possible that we can continue to have a cooling in the labor market without the big increases in unemployment that have gone with many prior episodes,” Powell said.
“Wage increases have been moving down, and that’s a good sign. Down to more sustainable levels. … I think the case of avoiding a recession is in my view more likely than that of having a recession,” he added.
— Jesse Pound
Powell says more data is needed to see if the Fed funds rate is restrictive enough
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell thinks that more data is needed to decide if the Fed funds rate is restrictive enough.
“We’re going to need data to accumulate on that, [that’s] not an assessment that we’ve made that would mean we’ve reached that point,” he said. “I think it’s not possible to say that with confidence now.”
Powell said that the summary of economic projections from the Fed’s March FOMC meeting showed that decisions made up until that point in time had resulted in an appropriate level of rate increases. Powell says the committee will reassess the notion in June.
— Brian Evans
Powell calls JPMorgan acquisition of First Republic an ‘exception’
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell called JPMorgan’s acquisition of First Republic an “exception,” during a press conference Wednesday.
“I think it’s probably good policy that we don’t want the largest banks doing big acquisitions,” he said. “That is the policy, but this is an exception for a failing bank and I think it’s actually a good outcome for the banking system.”
Another regional bank purchasing First Republic would have also been a good outcome, he added.
Powell also said he does not have an “agenda” to continue consolidating banks, adding that he sees value in having banks of different sizes within the system accomplishing different goals.
— Samantha Subin
The process of tackling inflation has further to go, Powell says
Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that while inflation has improved over the last year, the fight to tame price pressures is far from over.
“Inflation remains well above our longer run goal of 2%,” Powell said. “Inflation has moderated somewhat since the middle of last year, nonetheless inflation pressures continue to run high and the process of getting inflation back down to 2% has a long way to go.”
Powell added that expectations for long-term inflation remain “well anchored,” and that the central bank remains focused on promoting maximum employment and strengthening purchasing power.
— Brian Evans
Lazard’s Temple says pause necessary to see ‘full effects of tightening’
Halting rate hikes may be necessary from here to see the Federal Reserve’s tightening move through the system, according to Ronald Temple, chief market strategist at Lazard.
“The FOMC struck an appropriate balance between taming inflation while avoiding exacerbating stress in the banking system,” he said. “Assuming banking issues subside, additional rate hikes may be needed, but it’s time for a pause to allow the full effects of tightening to work its way through the economy.”
— Samantha Subin
No decision yet on a ‘pause’ in rate hikes, Powell says
The Federal Reserve has not made a firm decision on whether it will stop raising interest rates, Chairman Jerome Powell said.
“A decision on a pause was not made today,” the central bank chief said during his news conference.
Markets had been looking for the Fed to signal that its rate-hiking cycle would be ending following Wednesday’s quarter-point rate increase.
More rate hikes still possible, Powell says
The Federal Reserve could continue hiking if economic data points the central bank in that direction, Jerome Powell said.
“We are prepared to do more if greater monetary policy restraint is warranted,” Powell said.
He later added that “a decision on a pause was not made today” but said the change in the statement language around future policy firming was “meaningful.”
— Jesse Pound
Stocks briefly turned red as Powell said the Fed is “prepared to do more” if warranted
The major averages momentarily turned negative as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicated that the central bank is “prepared to do more if greater monetary policy is warranted.”
The indexes recovered shortly after. As of 2:41 p.m., the Nasdaq Composite is up 1%, the S&P 500 is up 0.6%, and the Dow is up about 0.3%.
Fed rate hike unnecessary and harmful, says Realtor chief economist
The Federal Reserve’s 25 basis point rate hike is “unnecessary and harmful” amid decelerating inflation, said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.
Inflation will be even lower as housing rent, a big component of the inflation reading, will “inevitably slow down given the 40-year high robust construction of new empty apartment units,” he said in a statement after the central bank’s decision.
The rapid hikes have also upended the balance sheets of many small regional banks, he added.
“They are becoming zombie-like banks, unable to lend even to good businesses as they are more concerned with balance sheet shuffling for survival,” Yun said.
Stopping hikes and even cutting rates later in the year will give those banks a better chance of survival, he said.
— Michelle Fox
Federal Reserve will take a ‘data dependent’ approach going forward
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank will determine the pace of future monetary policy tightening after reviewing the data.
“Looking ahead, we’ll take a data-dependent approach to determining the extent to which additional policy firming may be appropriate,” he said.
— Sarah Min
Few surprises in the Fed’s latest statement, says Bleakley Financial Group
Bleakley Financial Group’s chief investment officer Peter Boockvar said the Fed’s Wednesday post-meeting statement hit much of the same points it did during the March meeting.
“They specifically repeated that ‘The US banking system is sound and resilient’” Boockvar noted, adding that the central bank also reiterated that “tighter credit conditions for households and businesses are likely to weigh on economy activity, hiring, and inflation.”
“But, as to be expected and certainly by the Fed funds futures market, it’s just about time to call a time-out, which implies the game/fight against inflation is still ongoing but at least they can sit back and determine ‘the extent to which additional policy firming may be appropriate to return inflation to 2% over time,’” Boockvar added.
“I think if the reporters get out of him to explicitly acknowledge that it’s time to take a rate hiking break, he will do his best to reiterate that rates are not going to be cut like the fed funds futures market are pricing in,” Boockvar continued.
— Hakyung Kim
The Fed might be putting rate hikes back in the tool kit, strategist says
The Federal Reserve omitted a sentence in the previous statement saying that “the Committee anticipates that some additional policy firming may be appropriate” for the Fed to achieve its 2% inflation goal. Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge believes that it is a clear indication that the Fed could pause rate hikes.
“This is a strong signal from the Fed that the Funds Rate has hit its cycle ceiling – Powell won’t close the door to incremental hikes completely, but removing that line is the FOMC’s way of telling markets they’re putting rate hikes back in the tool kit,” Crisafulli said in a note.
— Yun Li
Traders zero in on a key statement omitted from Fed statement
Bond yields turned lower and stocks inched higher as traders weighed the latest post-meeting statement from the Federal Reserve.
This time, the central bank seemed to soften its stance on future rate hikes, dropping a line about “additional policy firming” from its statement.
Fed statement changes line about ‘additional policy firming’
One major change in Wednesday’s Fed statement is the omission of a key phrase that in prior meetings was seen as a sign that the central bank would keep hiking.
“The Committee anticipates that some additional policy firming may be appropriate,” the March statement said.
Instead, the new statement says this:
“In determining the extent to which additional policy firming may be appropriate to return inflation to 2 percent over time, the Committee will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments.”
— Jesse Pound
The Federal Reserve hikes interest rates by a quarter point
The central bank raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, a move that was broadly expected by the market.
The increase takes the fed funds rate to a target range of 5% to 5.25%.
It was a unanimous decision by the Federal Open Market Committee.
Here’s what the market is doing ahead of the Fed’s decision
Stocks ticked higher as the Federal Reserve’s 2 p.m. ET rate decision announcement approached.
As of about 1:45 p.m., the S&P 500 gained 0.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked higher by 0.1%.
Bond yields were lower, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury down about 6 basis points to 3.37%. The rate on the 2-year Treasury was 3.92%, down 5 basis points.
Oil prices fell. West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell nearly 4%, and Brent futures slipped 3.6%.
Stocks could see a sharp rally if this winds up being the Fed’s last hike
Investors are awaiting the central bank’s next steps, and they could be rewarded if this interest rate hike is the last one in the Federal Reserve’s tightening cycle.
An analysis by CNBC Pro found that the stock market gets a boost one month to 12 months following the end of the Fed’s hiking cycle. The S&P 500 averaged an 8% gain and 21% return in the 3 months and 12 months following the final rate hike in a series.
Read more here.
–Darla Mercado, Brian Evans
Investors turn their focus to the Fed’s next steps
The market is all but certain that the Federal Reserve will push forward a 25-basis point rate hike this afternoon, bringing its benchmark funds rate to 5% to 5.25%.
The real question that’s bedeviling investors now is whether the central bank will indicate an end to its policy tightening or will it leave the door open for more interest rate increases to cool the economy.
A multitude of factors will weigh into the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee’s next steps. Inflation has been on a cooling trend, with the March consumer price index rising 5% from a year ago – but it doesn’t seem to be slowing at a pace that would appease the Fed. Economic growth is also showing signs of slowing. April’s jobs report looms ahead, due out on Friday.
The recent trouble in the regional bank space, including First Republic’s failure and subsequent takeover by JPMorgan, could also factor into the decision.
This means what the Fed says in its statement with respect to forward guidance – and what Chair Jerome Powell details in his upcoming presser – are even more important this time.
Read more on what’s ahead for the Fed here.
–Darla Mercado, Jeff Cox