July Interest Rate Cut From Fed Looks Like Done Deal After Powell Testimony

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell had an opportunity this morning to talk down the odds of an interest rate cut at the central bank’s July 31 meeting in testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee.

He didn’t–and I think that makes a 25 basis point cut from the Fed the end of July a lock. The Fed wouldn’t leave market expectations for an interest cut at 100% if it didn’t plan to deliver.

Of course, the markets being the greedy things that they are, bond traders and investors weren’t satisfied with the prospects for a 25 basis point cut and immediately bid up the odds again that the Fed will cut rates by 50 basis points at the end of the month.

According to the CME FedWatch Tool, which calculates the odds of a Fed move from prices in the Fed Funds Futures market, the odds of an interest rate cut on July 31 are 100%.  The odds for just one 25 basis point cut are at 71.4% this morning. Odds for a 50 basis point cut climbed to 28.7% today from just 3.3% yesterday.

So much for Powell talking down market expectations.

Beyond July, the odds are 54.3% for an additional 25 basis point on September 18 and 17.2% for an additional 50 basis point cut beyond a 25 basis point cut in July. That last, the odds of an additional big cut to bring the Fed’s interest rate benchmark 1.50-1.75% from the current 2.25%-2.50% rate, were at just 2% on July 9.

The market moving takeaways from Powell’s talk today were, in my opinion, his comment that the stronger than expected June jobs report hadn’t change the balance of the Fed’s thinking, that manufacturing and trade are weak around the world, and that the Fed doesn’t see worrying wage inflation even with good job growth.

As of 2 p.m. New York time today, the Standard & Poor’s 500 was up 0.57%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 0.45%, the NASDAQ Composite was higher by 0.82%,  and the Russell 2000 small cap index had gained 0.32%. The VIX volatility index dropped again, by 7.17%, to 13.08, well below the “fear index’s” long-term average.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was unchanged at 2.06% and the yield on the 2-year Treasury was 1.84%, still above the recent range near 1.76%.

The Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLK) was up 0.97%. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) was down 0.07%.

Gold climbed 1.26% to $1418.10 an ounce. The Dollar Spot Index (DXY) fell 0.43% as Powell’s confirmation of a July interest rate cut weakened the dollar.