June 17, 2019

Trump renews Fed attack over rates

12 June 2019, 07:28 | Hattie Nash

Fed probabilities

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The benefits of the 2017 tax cuts have waned and President Donald Trump's tariff threats with China and Mexico have roiled financial markets.

The greenback has been pressured lower by a sharp decline in long-term U.S. Treasury yields, which fell to near two-year lows on Friday after a soft report raised expectations for an interest rate cut by the Fed.

In currency markets, the US dollar index was flat as investors focused on the U.S.

The latest confirmation of the absence of inflation should comfort markets hoping the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in the coming months to boost the economy.

What's less certain is when the Fed will act and how big any cut will be - a more traditional 25 basis point move or a bolder, 50 basis point reduction created to get a bigger bang for the buck.

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US inflation was 1.5% in April, according to the Fed's preferred gauge, and has been under its 2% target for most of the last seven years.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that the central bank was closely monitoring the implications of the trade war on the economy and would "act as appropriate to sustain the expansion".

The central bank is due to hold its next policy meeting next week but most investors do not expect the Fed to announce any changes so soon. As he is part of the voting team that sets Fed rates his comments spurred investors and market forces.

At the same time, inflation is showing signs of firming by another measure that the Fed prefers. USA stock index futures pared losses slightly.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, which is the Fed's preferred measure of inflation, reached a 2019 high back in April when the index came in at 1.5% and 1.6% after food and energy items are excluded.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 58.33 points, or 0.22%, to 26,121.01, the S&P 500 gained 5.92 points, or 0.21%, to 2,892.65 and the Nasdaq Composite added 14.99 points, or 0.19%, to 7,838.15.

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence, which is what a homeowner would pay to rent or receive from renting a home, increased 0.3% in May after rising 0.3% in April.

The 0.1 percent increase was the smallest increase since January, MarketWatch reported, matching its analysts' forecast. Apparel prices were unchanged in May after tumbling 0.8% in the prior month.

Prices for used motor vehicles and trucks tumbled 1.4 per cent. Tweeting on Tuesday evening, Mr Trump said: "The Euro and other currencies are devalued against the dollar, putting the United States at a big disadvantage".

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