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美联储加息已成定局

Fed ready to raise rates after nine years

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核心提示:除非出现巨大意外,否则美联储(Fed)公开市场委员会将于今日宣布上调目标利率,这将是美联储9年多来首次加息。三个月前,来自市场的压力迫使美联储放弃了加息计划。

除非出现巨大意外,否则美联储(Fed)公开市场委员会将于今日宣布上调目标利率,这将是美联储9年多来首次加息。三个月前,来自市场的压力迫使美联储放弃了加息计划。

自那以来,美联储受命管理的两项指标——通胀和失业率——的走势让加息理由更为强劲。但迫使美联储在9月份推迟加息的市场压力——包括大宗商品价格下跌、新兴市场(尤其是中国)货币贬值以及信贷市场紧张——自那以来大多不减反增。市场极大地加大了加息决定的难度。

自9月15日以来,市场通胀预测实际上有所下降,市场现在预计未来10年的平均通胀率为1.47%,低于美联储的目标利率。

美国股市自9月15日以来上涨,但这几乎完全归因于大公司的上涨,涵盖市值前50名股票的罗素50指数上涨6.4%,而包括较小公司股票的罗素2000指数下跌3%。

新兴市场货币进一步贬值2.6%。而人民币兑美元汇率先是企稳,然后进一步下跌,现在比今年8月份的任何水平都低。在信贷市场,投资者上周对被视为最高风险的高收益“垃圾”信贷价格大幅下跌感到震惊。美林(Merrill Lynch)高收益指数在过去3个月里下跌约6.5%。

尽管有所有这些指标,但压倒性的市场观点依然是,期待已久的加息终将来临,联邦基金利率期货市场走势显示,美联储加息几率为76%。

这种观点的主要理由是美国经济。自9月份以来,失业率从5.1%降至5.0%,同时上月核心通胀率升至2%。薪资通胀达到每月2.5%,为危机之后的最高水平。这解释了为何市场预计美联储终将加息,但它们没有让这项任务变得轻松一些。

Barring a huge surprise, the US Federal Reserve’s open market committee is expected today to unveil its first rise in target rates in more than nine years, three months after pressure from markets forced it to abandon plans to raise rates at its September meeting.

Since then, the two key measures it is mandated to target — inflation and unemployment — have moved so as to give stronger justification for raising rates. But most of the market pressures that forced the Fed to delay a rate rise in September, including falling commodity prices, depreciating emerging market currencies, especially in China, and stressed credit markets, have only intensified since then. Markets have made the decision far harder.

Since September 15, market inflation forecasts have actually fallen, with markets now predicting average inflation of 1.47 per cent — below the Fed’s target rate — over the next 10 years.

US stocks have gained since September 15, but this is almost entirely due to big companies, with the Russell Top 50 index — covering the 50 largest stocks by market value — rising 6.4 per cent, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies has fallen by 3 per cent.

Emerging market currencies have depreciated a further 2.6 per cent. And the Chinese renminbi, after stabilising, has now weakened to a lower level against the dollar than at any point during August. In credit markets, investors were alarmed last week by a sharp fall for high-yield “junk” credit regarded as the highest risk. The Merrill Lynch index of high-yield is now down some 6.5 per cent over the past three months.

Despite all these measures, market opinion remained overwhelming that the long-awaited rate rise would at last arrive, with the Fed Funds futures market putting the chances at 76 per cent.

The main reason for this is the economy. Unemployment has ticked down from 5.1 to 5.0 per cent since September, while core inflation last month rose to 2 per cent. Wage inflation reached 2.5 per cent a month, a post-crisis high. This explains why markets expect the Fed to go through with a higher interest rate. But they did not make the task easy.

 

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