The FOMC Minutes: What You Need to Know

Sponsored by the Dr. Stoxx Options Letter

Just minutes ago, the Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes of last month's meeting.  That meeting was closed watched by investors as Fed Chair Janet Yellen testified before Congress.  All ears were listening for any change in the verbiage regarding the Fed's policy toward future interest rate hikes: a move that is designed to put the brakes on an overheated economy and the dangers of price inflation.  

Since that meeting, the S&P has been treading water.  Investors are equally divided.  Bulls take solace in the idea that the Fed will delay interest rate hikes until next year.  Bears think the economy is faltering and ready to contract.  The bears were bolstered by last Friday's dismal nonfarm payroll numbers.  But the bulls have able to keep a bid under every dip, certain that weak economic data keeps the Fed's hands tied.

Thus it was with heightened interest that many in the fin-news community approached this afternoon's release of the minutes.  Here is what you need to know:

  • The Fed policy makers are split over whether they would raise rates in June (and this was before the jobs numbers came out)
  • Fed hawks think the recent economic data are strong enough to warrant "normalization" of rates this June (their next meeting)
  • Fed doves argue that falling energy prices and the strong dollar are risks that require holding off on higher rates until later in the year
  • 2 Fed officials argue that rates should stay as is until 2016
  • Chair Yellen suggested that rates should be raised "gradually" and not follow a set pattern of hikes
  • The Fed would need to see 3 signs in order to confirm a rate hike as early as June: continued improvement in the labor market, stable oil prices, and a lower dollar.  Right now, none of those are in evidence.

The summation of the minutes can be read in the following quote:

“There are strong arguments for being a little on the late side,” in raising rates, New York Fed President William C. Dudley said earlier Wednesday in New York.

TC.

Posted to Dr. Stoxx Options Letter on Apr 08, 2015 — 2:04 PM
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