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Fed officials say rate hikes near as inflation soars

Friday, January 14, 2022

By Jonnelle Marte and Ann Saphir

(Reuters) - U.S. central bankers, in a last flurry of public comments before their upcoming January policy meeting, are making it crystal clear: they'll likely start raising interest rates as early as March to rein in high inflation likely to be made worse by the current surge of COVID-19.

It is "sensible" for the central bank to begin raising interest rates this year, following dramatic improvements in the labor market and inflation that is well above the Fed's 2% target, New York Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said on Friday.

"We see inflation that's obviously higher than we want and not coming down yet," Williams told reporters. "We're approaching that kind of decision. That makes sense."

While Williams declined to say when exactly he expects the first rate increase, about half a dozen policymakers this week signaled the Fed could raise interest rates starting in March.

The insistence on the likelihood of a March rate hike reflects the policy bind the Fed finds itself in: searing hot inflation showing few signs of receding at a time the Fed is still locked into a bond-buying program designed to stimulate growth, with rates stuck at near-zero levels.

In December, as that policy bind became more obvious, policymakers began cutting back their bond purchases more quickly to get into position for a possible earlier start to rate hikes. Now that possibility has blossomed into a near-certainty, at least as measured by bets in financial markets: Traders of interest rate futures see an 86% chance of a rate increase in March.

Policymakers say that once they raise rates above today's low levels, they can begin the next phase of removing support - offloading more than $8 trillion in bond holdings accumulated to help lower long-term interest rates. But they caution the timing of those moves will depend on how long it takes the economy to resolve the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

THE OMICRON EFFECT

Policymakers noted that the recent surge in infections caused by the Omicron COVID-19 variant could slow economic growth and prolong the supply chain disruptions that contributed to overly high inflation.

The Fed needs to raise interest rates to reduce demand to bring it better in line with crimped supply, said San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly.

"We are going to have to adjust policy to ensure we achieve price stability," Daly said during a New York Times interview on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) Spaces. "We want to bridle the economy a little bit."

Williams said the U.S. economy could grow 3.5% this year, a stepdown from the surge in 2021 but still solid.

"Once the Omicron wave subsides, the economy should return to a solid growth trajectory and these supply constraints on the economy should ebb over time," Williams said during a virtual event organized by the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Fed official said he expects the labor market to continue healing as the economy grows, forecasting that the unemployment rate will drop to 3.5% this year.

Pricing pressures may ease as economic growth slows and supply constraints are resolved, Williams said, adding that he expects inflation to drop to around 2.5% this year and close to 2% in 2023. Consumer prices posted their biggest annual rise in nearly 40 years last month.

Williams said "gradually" raising interest rates would be the next step in removing accommodation, but the exact timing and pacing of those rate hikes will depend on what happens with inflation and the economy.

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25-01-2022 08:54:11 (UTC+7)

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 EUR/USD1.1272↑ Sell
 GBP/USD1.3466Neutral
 USD/JPY113.94↑ Sell
 AUD/USD0.7127↑ Sell
 USD/CAD1.2648↑ Buy
 EUR/JPY128.44↑ Sell
 EUR/CHF1.0362↑ Sell
 Gold1,841.80Neutral
 Silver23.738↑ Sell
 Copper4.4078Neutral
 Crude Oil WTI83.67↑ Buy
 Brent Oil85.84Neutral
 Natural Gas3.821Sell
 US Coffee C237.35↑ Buy
 Euro Stoxx 504,072.55↑ Sell
 S&P 5004,410.13↑ Buy
 DAX15,076.45↑ Sell
 FTSE 1007,360.02↑ Sell
 Hang Seng24,243.61↑ Buy
 Small Cap 20002,030.04↑ Buy
 IBEX 358,492.50Buy
 BASF65.230↑ Buy
 Bayer50.92↑ Buy
 Allianz220.07Sell
 Adidas237.78Neutral
 Lufthansa6.686↑ Sell
 Siemens AG137.32↑ Sell
 Deutsche Bank AG10.954↑ Buy
Mua/Bán 1 chỉ SJC
# So hôm qua # Chênh TG
SJC Eximbank6,195/ 6,245
(25/ 35) # 1,202
SJC HCM6,190/ 6,255
(40/ 45) # 1,211
SJC Hanoi6,190/ 6,257
(40/ 45) # 1,213
SJC Danang6,190/ 6,257
(40/ 45) # 1,213
SJC Nhatrang6,190/ 6,257
(40/ 45) # 1,213
SJC Cantho6,190/ 6,257
(40/ 45) # 1,213
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