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  1. (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve’s plans to continue raising interest rates next year were met with more skepticism on Wall Street on Monday, with futures traders betting on a pause and one major bank partially walking back a hawkish prediction. The U.S. central bank is still seen raising rates a notch next week in a nod to a hot labor market and economy running well above potential even as inflation remains at target. Yet two volatile months in financial markets and signs of an overseas slowdown have raised doubts the Fed can carry through with the three rate hikes its officials have predicted for 2019. The sharp tightening of financial conditions convinced Goldman Sachs’ chief economist that the U.S. central bank is now more likely to pause its rate hikes in March, before continuing with three more hikes later in 2019. Goldman had previously predicted four rate hikes next year, far more than that implied by financial markets. “We think the probability of a move in March has now fallen to slightly below 50 percent,” Goldman’s Jan Hatzius wrote in a note on Monday. But “we see a return to quarterly hikes in June that last through the end of 2019.” Traders of short-term U.S. interest-rate futures are, for their part, betting the Fed may halt its rate hikes altogether next year, and could even move to cut borrowing costs. Contracts tied to the Fed’s target rate rose on Monday, reflecting rising worries about U.S. growth prospects amid a global slowdown and doubts about a smooth exit for Britain’s exit from the European Union after Prime Minster Theresa May abruptly postponed a parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal. Also adding to worries are signs that inflation expectations are slipping, and that the U.S.-China trade dispute has hit rougher waters. All this has weighed on the U.S. stock market as the S&P Index .SPX hit an 8-month low early Monday. The situation on Wall Street, wrote University of Oregon economics professor Tim Duy, is “unpleasant, and it in turn is creating considerable uncertainty about the outlook for monetary policy in 2019.” Based on prices of Fed fund futures, traders now see a 73 percent chance of a rate hike next week, and just a 49 percent chance of a further rate hike by the end of next year. Contracts expiring in June 2020 are now fetching a higher price than contracts expiring a year earlier, meaning traders are beginning to put some money on a rate cut. The changing predictions put a spotlight on the Fed’s own expectations, which it will update next Wednesday when it delivers its expected fourth rate hike of the year. Source
  2. WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday further sought to pressure the Federal Reserve as the central bank prepared to start its two-day policy meeting, warning the Fed’s board not to “make yet another mistake” ahead of an expected interest rate hike. The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to raise interest rates for the fourth time this year during its two-day meeting on interest rate policy that is due to start later on Tuesday. The Fed, which has been raising interest rates in 25-basis-point increments since December 2015, has promised to raise rates gradually toward a neutral setting to keep the economy from overheating. Many economists also expect additional increases next year although at a slower pace. Trump, who has made the economy a key part of his political platform, has repeatedly criticized the Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell. “Don’t let the market become any more illiquid than it already is. Stop with the 50 B’s. Feel the market, don’t just go by meaningless numbers. Good luck!” Trump wrote. Source
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