Federal Reserve Holds Interest Rates Steady at 5.50% and Plans to Slow Balance-Sheet Reduction

The Federal Reserve has decided not to reduce interest rates, maintaining them at the current level of 5.50%, consistent with the previous rate.

Market expectations were in line with the Fed’s decision, with analysts anticipating the interest rate to remain unchanged at 5.50%.

Additionally, the Fed announced plans to decrease the pace of balance-sheet reduction, with the adjustment set to commence in June.

The Federal Reserve has decided to maintain the cap on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) redemptions at $35 billion per month. Additionally, any excess MBS principal payments will be reinvested into treasuries.

The Fed noted that risks to achieving employment and inflation goals have shifted towards a better balance over the past year. This differs from the previous policy statement in March, which indicated that risks were moving into better balance.

The Federal Reserve stated that it does not anticipate cutting rates until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is steadily progressing towards the 2% target.

The Federal Reserve decided to maintain the key overnight interest rate within the range of 5.25% to 5.50%. The decision was influenced by the recent lack of further progress towards the 2% inflation target.

Starting June 1, the Fed will reduce the redemption cap for Treasury securities to $25 billion per month from the current $60 billion. However, the redemption cap for mortgage-backed securities will remain at $35 billion per month. Additionally, any excess principal payments from mortgage-backed securities will be reinvested into Treasuries.

The Federal Reserve expressed its intention not to consider cutting rates until it gains greater confidence in the sustainability of inflation moving towards the 2% target.

The Fed noted that risks related to achieving employment and inflation goals have moved towards a better balance over the past year, a shift from the previous statement in March.

The Fed’s assessment of the economy indicates that economic activity continues to expand at a solid pace, with strong job gains and a low unemployment rate. However, inflation, while easing over the past year, remains elevated.

The decision on the Fed’s policy was unanimous, reflecting a consensus among its members.

Following the FOMC meeting, traders perceive a reduced likelihood of the Federal Reserve refraining from a rate cut this year.

The Federal Reserve is accelerating its reduction of quantitative tightening (QT) by more than the expected $30 billion, opting for a $35 billion reduction instead. This move lowers the monthly redemption cap on Treasury securities from $60 billion to $25 billion. As a result, there will be $105 billion less gross issuance required in the third quarter. In short, the Fed’s actions indicate that it believes yields are currently too high.

FED Chair Powell says inflation has eased substantially over the past year but remains too high. He also highlights that further progress on inflation is not assured, with the path forward uncertain.

Jerome Powell states that it’s unlikely the next policy move will be a rate hike. He emphasizes that for rates to increase, there must be evidence that current policy measures aren’t effective in lowering inflation to the desired level. Powell also asserts that the Fed believes its policy is well-equipped to address various economic trajectories.

Powell states that they don’t anticipate cutting rates until they have more confidence in inflation approaching 2%. He notes that inflation readings this year haven’t provided that confidence, suggesting it may take longer than anticipated to gain such assurance.

Powell remarks that nominal wage growth has slowed in the past year and that inflation data for this year have surpassed expectations. However, he highlights that longer-term inflation expectations are still firmly anchored. Powell emphasizes that their policy decisions are driven by their goals.

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