ECB plays catch up, raises refinancing rate to 2 percent

ECB raises Main Refinancing Rate by 75bps to 2.00%

The ECB stated:

“The Governing Council today decided to raise the three key ECB interest rates by 75 basis points. With this third major policy rate increase in a row, the Governing Council has made substantial progress in withdrawing monetary policy accommodation.

The Governing Council took today’s decision, and expects to raise interest rates further, to ensure the timely return of inflation to its 2% medium-term inflation target.

Christine Lagarde: ECB President

The Governing Council will base the future policy rate path on the evolving outlook for inflation and the economy, following its meeting-by-meeting approach. Inflation remains far too high and will stay above the target for an extended period. In September, euro area inflation reached 9.9%.

In recent months, soaring energy and food prices, supply bottlenecks and the post-pandemic recovery in demand have led to a broadening of price pressures and an increase in inflation.

The Governing Council’s monetary policy is aimed at reducing support for demand and guarding against the risk of a persistent upward shift in inflation expectations. The Governing Council also decided to change the terms and conditions of the third series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO III).

During the acute phase of the pandemic, this instrument played a key role in countering downside risks to price stability.

Today, in view of the unexpected and extraordinary rise in inflation, it needs to be recalibrated to ensure that it is consistent with the broader monetary policy normalisation process and to reinforce the transmission of policy rate increases to bank lending conditions.

Accordingly, the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will be increased to 2.00%, 2.25% and 1.50% respectively, with effect from 2 November 2022.

Asset purchase programme (APP)

The Governing Council intends to continue reinvesting, in full, the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time past the date when it started raising the key ECB interest rates and, in any case, for as long as necessary to maintain ample liquidity conditions and an appropriate monetary policy stance.

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What is FOMC’s next move?

The Fed says go, go, go, the markets’ say whoa, whoa, whoa

There is a lot of uncertainty on the Fed outlook and just how fast and how far will the FOMC go in hiking rates in orders to bring inflation down to the 2% average target.

Though Chair Powell gave no clear indication in last Wednesday’s press conference that the Fed was near done with its mission, the markets nevertheless heard what they wanted to hear, putting on a dovish spin and pricing in a pivot to rate cuts in the spring of 2023.

Fed Chair: Jerome Powell

But over the last week policymakers have been out in force, including several doves, strongly contradicting that outlook.

They have stressed the necessity of getting to restrictive territory while playing down the fear that the economy is already in recession.

Meanwhile, the U.S. ISM-NMI services index rose to 56.7 from a 2-year low of 55.3 in June that was last seen in February of 2021, translated to an ISM-adjusted ISM-NMI rise to 54.3 from a 2-year low of 53.7 in June.

Today’s rise joins big declines for the ISM, Chicago PMI, Dallas Fed and Philly Fed, but gains for the Richmond Fed and Empire State, to leave an 8-month producer sentiment pull-back from robust November peaks.

Surging interest rates and a flattening in real household spending as prices rise are aggravating the downtrend, though sentiment also faces support as businesses continue to restock.

The ISM-adjusted average of the major sentiment surveys in July fell to a 2-year low of 52 from prior lows of 53 in June and 54 in May. Analysts saw a 62 all-time high in both November and May of 2021. Analysts expect a 52 average in Q3, after averages of 55 in Q2, 57 in Q1, and 60 in Q4.

The futures are now repricing for about a 50-50 risk for a third straight 75 bp hike in September.

James Bullard
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Meanwhile, the hawk Bullard continues to look for a policy rate around 3.75% to 4% by year-end, though implied Fed funds still reflect a terminal rate in the 3.5% area.

Analysts continue to project a 50 bp boost in September followed by 25 bps in November and December to bring the median funds rate to 3.375%.

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Drill, Baby, Drill,

Baker Hughes reports U.S. rig count up 3 to 698 rigs

Baker Hughes (BKR) reports that the U.S. rig count is up 3 from last week to 698 with oil rigs up 3 to 552, gas rigs unchanged at 144 and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 2.

The international offshore rig count for April 2018 was 194. Stockwinners

The U.S. Rig Count is up 258 rigs from last year’s count of 440 with oil rigs up 210, gas rigs up 48 and miscellaneous rigs unchanged at 2.

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is up 1 to 14, up 1 year-over-year.

The Canada Rig Count is down 6 from last week to 95, with oil rigs down 3 to 45, gas rigs down 3 to 50.

The Canada Rig Count is up 44 rigs from last year’s count of 51, with oil rigs up 25, gas rigs up 19.

The Baker Hughes rig counts are counts of the number of drilling rigs actively exploring for or developing oil or natural gas in the U.S., Canada and international markets.

The Company has issued the rig counts as a service to the petroleum industry since 1944, when Hughes Tool Company began weekly counts of the U.S. and Canadian drilling activity. The monthly international rig count was initiated in 1975.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is up $1.10 to $106.39 per barrel. Brent crude is up $1.42 to $108.72 per barrel. Gasoline last traded at $3.474 per gallon flat on the day.

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ECB sets a two percent target for inflation

ECB keeps key interest rates unchanged, revises forward guidance on rates

The ECB said: “In its recent strategy review, the Governing Council agreed a symmetric inflation target of two per cent over the medium term.

The key ECB interest rates have been close to their lower bound for some time and the medium-term outlook for inflation is still well below the Governing Council’s target.

In these conditions, the Governing Council today revised its forward guidance on interest rates. It did so to underline its commitment to maintain a persistently accommodative monetary policy stance to meet its inflation target.

In support of its symmetric two per cent inflation target and in line with its monetary policy strategy, the Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it sees inflation reaching two per cent well ahead of the end of its projection horizon and durably for the rest of the projection horizon, and it judges that realized progress in underlying inflation is sufficiently advanced to be consistent with inflation stabilizing at two per cent over the medium term.

This may also imply a transitory period in which inflation is moderately above target.

Having confirmed its June assessment of financing conditions and the inflation outlook, the Governing Council continues to expect purchases under the pandemic emergency purchase program – PEPP – over the current quarter to be conducted at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of the year…

The interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.50% respectively.”

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FOMC leaves rates unchanged near zero

Fed members project Federal funds rate near zero until end 2023 

There were some important shifts in the statement versus July’s, however, that further support the ZIRP posture.

Indeed, the Fed will “aim” for an inflation rate “moderately above 2% for some time so that inflation averages 2% over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2%.

The Fed reiterated from June that it will in coming months increase its holdings of Treasuries and MBS “to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions.” There were two dissents. Kaplan approved of the current target range, but wanted to retain a “greater policy flexibility.” Kashkari wanted the statement to indicate the current target range on rates will be maintained until core inflation has reached 2% on a sustained basis. The Fed’s SEP reflected an improved outlook on 2020 growth, as expected.

FOMC Chief, Jerome Powell

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement,

“The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. With inflation running persistently below this longer-run goal, the Committee will aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time so that inflation averages 2 percent over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2 percent. The Committee expects to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved.

The Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time. In addition, over coming months the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses.”

Feds balance sheet ballons

The Fed released the economic projections of Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents under their individual assessments of projected appropriate monetary policy, which shows that the median projection for Federal funds rate is 0.1% for the end of 2020, the end of 2021, and the end of 2022. The group’s projections in June were also for a Federal funds rate of 0.1% at the end of 2020, the end of 2021 and the end of 2022. The Fed group has extended its projection out to 2023, and still sees a Federal funds rate of 0.1% at the end of 2023.

FOMC will continue to pump money into economy

FOMC Forecast revisions, released with the FOMC statement, show the huge boosts in the official 2020 GDP forecasts that analysts had assumed, followed by a more restrained 2021-23 bounce.

The jobless rate estimates were lowered by much more than expected across the forecast horizon, and inflation was boosted as expected.

The median Fed funds rates sit at 0.1% through 2023, though the range of estimates show expectations of hikes by some starting in 2022.

The 2020 GDP central tendency was boosted sharply to the -4.0% to -3.0% from the prior central tendency of -7.6% to -5.5%, versus our own -2.4% forecast.

Unemployment expected to stay high

Analysts saw a huge trimming the jobless rate central tendency to 7.0%-8.0% from 9.0%-10.0%, versus our own higher 8.2% figure. Analysts saw boosts in the PCE chain price central tendencies to 1.1%-1.3% from 0.6%-1.0% for the headline and to 1.3%-1.5% from 0.9%-1.1% for the core, versus our respective estimates of 1.2% and 1.6%.

The central tendency for the Fed funds rate rises to 0.1%-0.4% in 2023 after unanimous 0.1% figures in 2020 and 2021. The range rises to 0.1%-0.6% in 2022, and to 0.1%-1.4% in 2023. page for a table of assumptions for the Fed’s revised forecasts.

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