Rate-hike Expectations Recede As The Stock Market Unravels

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Wall Street expectations for an increase in benchmarks interest rates next month by the Federal Reserve fell on Wednesday, as U.S. stocks suffered the worst daily drop in months on concerns President Donald Trump's pro-growth legislative agenda was in jeopardy. Federal-funds futures were indicating that the market was pricing in a 64.6% probability of a rate hike at the Fed's two-day meeting starting June 13-14. That is down from expectations as high as about 90% just last week and 74% on Tuesday, according to the CME Group's data. The current levels still imply a strong likelihood of a rate increase as the Janet Yellen's Fed aims to normalize monetary policy, but significantly lower. The downshift for the rate-hike outlook comes as so-called risk assets, notably stocks, are tumbling sharply, along with yields for government bonds. Reports alleging that Trump tried to influence an FBI probe into members of his presidential campaign and Russia by requesting that then-director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, end an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has intensified doubts that the president will be able to implement a host of market-friendly policies that had been at the heart of the runup in risk assets in recent months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off 1.5% at 20,661, putting it on pace to log its worst one-day drop in eight months. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite Index also were on track for their sharpest declines since September. Financial stocks have been at the center of Wednesday's storm with shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. cutting more than 100 points from Dow, combined. Lower interest rates can undercut a bank's lending model. The yield on government bonds have been near their lowest levels in three weeks, with the 10-year Treasury note [BX:TMUBMUSD10Y] yielding 2.22%. Yields, which move inversely to prices, tend to fall in times of uncertainty and as expectations for rate hikes decline.

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