Eight of 18 U.S. primary dealers said they expected the U.S. central
bank to increase its policy rate by the end of June next year,
according to a poll conducted by Reuters among the Wall Street's top
22 firms that do business directly with the Fed.
A Reuters poll done three weeks earlier showed only four primary
dealers anticipated a rate hike by the first half of 2015 despite
comments from Fed Chair Janet Yellen that suggested increases might
Friday's solid March jobs report concluded a busy week of economic
data that indicated the economy has thawed along with much of the
country, where shoppers were reluctant to leave their homes and
companies kept a lid on payrolls.
U.S. employers hired 192,000 workers last month, fewer than the
200,000 projected by economists polled by Reuters, the U.S. Labor
Department said. It upwardly adjusted its January and February
payrolls figures by a combined 37,000. Another key job measure, the
monthly unemployment rate, held at 6.7 percent. Economists had
expected a fall to 6.6 percent.
"The Fed will be very happy with this type of jobs report," said
Jacob Oubina, senior economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.
Last month, the Fed as expected scrapped its use of a 6.5 percent
household unemployment rate as a barrier before raising interest
rates. The jobless rate is currently just 6.7 percent and is likely
to drop through 6.5 percent before long.
Instead, the Fed will rely on a number of labor-market indicators,
inflation figures and "readings on financial developments" to
determine when to increase rates.
Ten of the 17 Wall Street firms expected the first rate move would
be an increase to 0.50 percent from the current zero to 0.25 percent
range, which has been in effect since December 2008.
The rest of the primary dealers said they anticipated the Fed would
eliminate the near-zero target range prior to actually raising rates
by a quarter point.
Short-term interest rates futures rallied on the jobs figures, which
were good but not better than expected. The federal funds contract
for April 2015 delivery implies traders scaled back their
expectations of a rate hike a year from now to 42 percent from 50
percent late on Thursday, according to CME FedWatch, which
calculates traders' view of changes in the Fed's rate policy.
[to top of second column]
While traders speculate on the timing of the first Fed rate
increase, which would be the first one since June 2006, economists
at major Wall Street firms reckoned the central bank will end its
third round of quantitative easing by year-end.
While the overall March payrolls report was positive, some
analysts pointed out the naggingly high level of part-time workers
and sluggish wage growth as worrisome factors that support the view
the labor recovery is still fragile. This should keep Fed
policy-makers from making any rapid changes in their current timing
in paring stimulus and in raising borrowing costs, economists said.
These factors "suggest the Fed need not be in a hurry to tighten
policy," JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli wrote in a research note.
Since December, the Fed has reduced its monthly purchases, with
current plans for $55 billion in bond purchases in April, down from
$85 billion in December.
Twelve of 16 primary dealers polled expected the central bank to
stop reinvesting the proceeds from maturing bonds it owns by the end
of 2015. The other four forecast the Fed will end its reinvestment
in first quarter of 2016.
(Reporting by Getrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Karen Brettell, Luciana
Lopez, Karen Brettell, Sam Forgione, Michael Connor in New York;
Deepti Govind and Ishaan Gera in Bangalore; editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.