Is the Fed Getting Cold Feet with Rate-Hiking Policy?

Of course, the latest comments come as the capital markets were roiled by volatility in an October that saw the all the major U.S. indexes get their fair share of declines. Following a post-midterm election rally the first week of November, volatility made an unwelcome return and the indexes resumed a downward trajectory.

As the oscillations continue, Clarida is unable to derive a convincing trend in the markets just yet.

“I don’t think there’s any clear signal,” said Clarida. “You know, it’s hard even after the fact sometimes to attribute any given move in markets. You know, year to date, the stock market is up and there’s some volatility. So I think right now there’s no clear signal that I would take from it.”

December Rate Hike Not 100%

After the central bank did as expected and stood pat with interest rate hikes in November, the general consensus is that a final rate hike to cap off 2018 is expected, but to say the chances are 100 percent would be too soon, according to San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank president Mary Daly.

“I think it’s premature to say that it’s definitely needed,” said Daly.

“My modal forecast is for two to three (rate hikes) over the next period of time, with the exact timing not being certain,” Daly added.

September’s rate hike saw the central bank raise the federal funds rate 25 basis points to 2.25. The latest Fedspeak is the movement of rates toward a level of neutrality, but that could mean different things to different people–Daly has her own assessment.

“If you asked me today I’d probably pick” the middle of the range, about 2.7 percent,” Daly said.

For more trends in fixed income, visit the Rising Rates Channel.