Fed funds futures price in interest rate hike by May 2022

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FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK -Futures on the federal funds rate on Wednesday have fully priced in a quarter-percentage-point tightening by the Federal Reserve by May next year after the U.S. central bank doubled the pace of its monthly bond-buying tapering and flagged three interest rate increases in 2022.

For March next year, traders have factored in a 50% chance of a rate move. Fed funds futures are also betting on three hikes next year consistent with the new economic projections released by the Fed earlier on Wednesday.

The Fed, signaling its inflation target has been met, said it would end its pandemic-era bond purchases in March and pave the way for three quarter-percentage-point interest rate increases by the end of 2022 and another three in 2023 as it battles persistently high inflation.

The more liquid eurodollar futures market, meanwhile, indicated that the first Fed hike could either be in May or June, with three hikes factored in as well.

“The quicker taper will boost speculation that the Fed will begin raising rates at the mid-March meeting. That depends when officials judge the labour market is back at ‘maximum employment’,” Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note.

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“On balance, we still expect that renewed weakness in the economy early next year will convince officials to delay the lift-off date to the June meeting.”

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Diane Craft, Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao)