Any doubt that the Federal Reserve will raise its its benchmark interest rate by 0.75 percentage point next week is gone, economists said, following the hot U.S. consumer price inflation data for August released Tuesday.
“Federal Reserve officials have made it very clear that they will not slow the pace of rate hikes until they see convincing evidence that core inflation pressure is easing,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“These data mean that the chance of a 50 basis point rate hike next week has gone,” he added.
“Today’s upward surprise in the core index seals a third consecutive 75 basis point tightening move by the FOMC next Wednesday. It will likely play an important role in skewing the policy statement verbiage and Chair Powell’s post-meeting remarks to the hawkish side of the spectrum,” said Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.
Investors who trade in federal funds futures markets are pricing in a 20% chance of a 100 basis point move next week, according to the CME Group’s Fed Watch tool.
“This looks over-the-top,” Shepherdson added.
Core inflation rose 0.6% in August after rising 0.3% in the prior month. The year-on-year rate rose to 6.3% after 5.9% in July.
Prior to the data, most economists thought that the Fed would slow the pace of rate hikes in November to a half percentage point hike, but now a larger 0.75 percentage point move is expected, according to the CME data.
Fed officials have said they want to see several month-on-month inflation numbers annualizing to less than 3% before turning less hawkish and thinking about a pause in rate hikes.
“For now, we are not even remotely close,” said Roberto Perli, head of global policy at Piper Sandler.