A majority of Wall Street’s top bond firms see no move by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates before the second half of next year, and most see the U.S. central bank sticking with a range rather than a specific target for the key fed funds rate, a Reuters survey showed on Friday.
The results are otherwise broadly unchanged from a survey taken in early June.
Twelve of 18 primary dealers, or the banks that deal directly with the Fed, said the U.S. central bank’s first rate increase would occur between July 2015 and June 2016, the survey found.
All but three of the 22 primary dealers participated in the survey.
The view that ultra-loose policy would continue for some time persisted after Friday’s monthly employment report, which showed the U.S. economy added more than 200,000 jobs for a sixth straight month in July—a string of gains not seen since 1997—and after data earlier in the week showed the economy grew at a faster-than-expected 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter.
Nonfarm payrolls increased 209,000 last month, missing economists’ median expectation of a gain of 233,000, after surging by 298,000 in June.
“It fits into [the Fed’s] view of the world. There’s progress in job growth, but slack is still ample. There was no growth in average hourly earnings,” said Jay Feldman, economist at Credit Suisse in New York.
Concern about wage inflation intensified on Thursday as data showed U.S. labor costs recorded their biggest gain in more than 5-1/2 years in the second quarter. However, Friday’s data showed average hourly earnings rose only one cent last month.
In the survey, 15 of 17 Wall Street firms expected the Fed would stop reinvesting the proceeds from maturing bonds it holds on its $4.4 trillion balance sheet after or around the same time as the first rate increase. That compares with 12 out of 17 who responded that way a month ago.
Fed Seen Setting Range
The most marked difference from June’s survey was that most dealers now expect the Fed to target the funds rate at a range, rather than keeping a specific rate level as it customarily did before the latest financial crisis. A month ago just two of 16 dealers saw the Fed opting for a range.
Since December 2008, the Fed has targeted a range of zero to 0.25 percent for its key funds rate.
In Friday’s survey, nine dealers forecast the Fed would target a range of 0.25-0.50 percent once it begins to raise interest rates. Two more see a range with 0.50 percent as the upper band, with the lower ends at 0.30 percent and 0.35 percent. A sole dealer forecast the range to be between 0.175 percent and 0.375 percent.
Among the five dealers that see a specific target for the fed funds rate, three have it pegged at 0.50 percent and two at 0.25 percent once it begins to rise.
Among 15 primary dealers, the median forecast for the Fed’s long-term neutral target rate, which is seen as a level that promotes growth without firing up inflation, was 3.50 percent. This was below the current 3.75 percent estimate from the Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank’s policy-setting group.
(Reporting by Richard Leong, Akane Otani, Caroline Valetkevitch and Rodrigo Campos in New York, and Ishaan Gera and Siddharth Iyer in Bangalore; Editing by Leslie Adler)