Fed Governor Lael Brainard said that an improving global economy and a solid U.S. recovery mean it will be "appropriate soon" for the to raise U.S. interest rates, adding an important voice to the chorus of officials signaling rates may rise as soon as mid-March.
"We are closing in on full employment, is moving gradually toward our target, foreign growth is on more solid footing, and risks to the outlook are as close to balanced as they have been in some time," Brainard said. "Assuming continued progress, it will likely be appropriate soon to remove additional accommodation, continuing on a gradual path." "After being an important constraint in the past few years, the external environment currently appears more benign than it has been for some time," Brainard said, directly addressing the set of risks that led her to become one of the stronger advocates for delaying any rate increase until the global environment improved.
Brainard’s opinions used to be dovish, that is why her hawkish comments are very important and we think are a clear signal that the Fed will not wait until June with a hike.
Coupled with the comments of other Fed officials in recent days and looking ahead to remarks by Fed chair Janet Yellen on Friday, Brainard's comments will likely help cement sentiment that a rate increase when the Fed meets in two weeks is now the assumed outcome.
Wednesday brought us some important macroeconomic data from the U.S.
The Commerce Department said consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased 0.2% after rising 0.5%in December. The tepid gain in consumer spending added to weak housing starts, equipment spending and construction data in suggesting economic growth remained moderate early in the first quarter after slowing in the final three months of 2016.
Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PCE price index rose 0.3% in January. That was the biggest increase since January 2012 and followed a 0.1% gain in December. The core PCE price index increased 1.7% yoy after a similar gain in December. The core PCE is the Fed's preferred measure.
Rising is eroding consumer spending. When adjusted for , consumer spending fell 0.3% in January, the first drop since August and the biggest in three years. It increased 0.3% in December and January's drop implies consumer spending will probably not provide a big boost to GDP in the first quarter.
Despite the softness on the demand-side of the economy, the manufacturing sector recovery is gaining steam. In a separate report on Wednesday, the Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity increased to a reading of 57.7 last month, the highest since August 2014, from 56.0 in January.
The situation has not changed a lot from the point of view of . The EUR/USD remains below the negatively aligned 7-day , which highlights the overall structure. Given hawkish comments from Brainard we think that current trend will be continued. The nearest is 1.0494, but we expect a stronger drop to at least 1.0451 (76.4% fibo of January rise).
We have placed a sell order at 1.0555, encouraged by the hawkish Brainard’s speech. If the order is filled we will set the target just above January low of 1.0342.
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