Monday, July 25, 2016

FOMC Preview: No Rate Hike, Possibly Preparing for September Rate Hike

by Bill McBride on 7/25/2016 12:23:00 PM

The FOMC will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday, and no change to policy is expected.

There will no economic projections released at this meeting, and there is no scheduled press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen (in the unlikely event there is a change to policy, Yellen will probably hold a press conference).

So the focus will be on the FOMC statement.

Here is the first paragraph from the April FOMC statement:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in March indicates that labor market conditions have improved further even as growth in economic activity appears to have slowed. Growth in household spending has moderated, although households' real income has risen at a solid rate and consumer sentiment remains high. Since the beginning of the year, the housing sector has improved further but business fixed investment and net exports have been soft. A range of recent indicators, including strong job gains, points to additional strengthening of the labor market. Inflation has continued to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective, partly reflecting earlier declines in energy prices and falling prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance, in recent months.
emphasis added
And the first paragraph from the June FOMC statement:
Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in April indicates that the pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed while growth in economic activity appears to have picked up. Although the unemployment rate has declined, job gains have diminished. Growth in household spending has strengthened. Since the beginning of the year, the housing sector has continued to improve and the drag from net exports appears to have lessened, but business fixed investment has been soft. Inflation has continued to run below the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective, partly reflecting earlier declines in energy prices and in prices of non-energy imports. Market-based measures of inflation compensation declined; most survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance, in recent months.
Since the June meeting, the economic data has been mostly positive, and the June employment report showed a gain of 287,000 jobs. The Q2 GDP report will be released on Friday, and is expected to show real GDP growth picked up in the second quarter.

The key for a possible September rate hike is if the first paragraph in the FOMC statement is more positive than in June. If the first sentence is changed to something like "Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that labor market conditions have improved and growth in economic activity appears to have picked up", then the FOMC is probably preparing - if the improved data flow continues - to raise rates in September.