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Yellen in Focus as Dismal Jobs Data Puts Rate Hike in Question

Yellen in Focus as Dismal Jobs Data Puts Rate Hike in Question

Varun Jaitly,

Talking Points:

  • Rate hike expectations drop heavily after NFP release, Yellen up next to speak
  • Fed’s Brainard believes data may be pointing to a slowdown in labor markets
  • Fed’s Mester suggests NFP data has not changed the Fed’s fundamental outlook

Having trouble trading in the FX markets? This may be why.

Following last Friday’s disappointing Non-Farm Payrolls report, the market traded heavily against the US Dollar and interest rate hike expectations for next week’s policy meeting fell from 22 to 4 percent. With repetitive rhetoric from the Fed claiming their decisions are data dependent, one has to wonder whether the recent employment figures have significantly hindered the likelihood for a rate hike in the coming months. This week holds even more significance as next week is a blackout period for Fed speakers prior to the June FOMC meeting. Therefore, Fed officials that are scheduled to speak this week are given the task of setting the tone for market expectations going into the rate decision meeting on June 15th.

Directly after Friday’s NFP release, Fed Governor Lael Brainard spoke on the economy in a characteristically dovish tone. However, coming after a terrible miss from employment data, Brainard’s comments seemed appropriate. She touched on the release, suggesting that data may be suggesting a slowdown in labor markets, and that the Fed should wait for additional information before proceeding. Brainard also mentioned some of the key downside risks currently being considered by Fed officials, such as the upcoming “Brexit” referendum. She also noted a possible reemergence of negative market pressure from China. Brainard conceded the move towards full employment and the considerable progress made by the Fed on its goal. However, she remained cautious on her policy action outlook.

On Saturday June 4th, the Fed’s Loretta Mester spoke in Stockholm and addressed the contentious payroll figures. In her comments, she stated that while the Fed indeed maintains its data dependency, markets should not read too much into one number. She believes there are inherent risks in waiting too long to raise rates and that the weak US jobs data has not fundamentally changed the Fed’s outlook. The torch now passes to Yellen, as markets anticipate her comments and whether she weighs more towards Brainard’s cautious dovishness or echoes Mesters sentiments.

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