Three more interest rate hikes could come this year, top banks say

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Goldman Sachs and Bank of America said they expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates three more times this year, lifting their estimates after data pointed to persistent inflation and a resilient labor market.

Producer prices accelerated in January by the biggest margin in seven months, according to data on Thursday, while a Labor Department report showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week.

“In light of the stronger growth and firmer inflation news, we are adding a 25bp (basis points) rate hike in June to our Fed forecast, for a peak funds rate of 5.25%-5.5%,” Goldman Sachs economists led by Jan Hatzius said in a note dated Thursday.

Meanwhile, money markets are currently pricing in a terminal rate of 5.3% by July.

BofA Global Research also expects a 25bps hike in the Fed’s June meeting, pushing the terminal rate up to a 5.25%-5.5% range.

It had earlier pencilled in two rate hikes of 25 bps each in the March and May meetings.

“Resurgent inflation and solid employment gains mean the risks to this (only two interest rate hikes) outlook are too one-sided for our liking,” BofA wrote in a client note.

After the recent U.S. data, European investment bank UBS said it was expecting the Fed to raise rates by 25 bps at its March and May meetings, which may leave the Fed funds rate at the 5%-5.25% range.

In sharp contrast to its U.S. peers, however, UBS estimated that the Fed would ease interest rates at the September meeting this year.

Before the recent U.S. data, J.P. Morgan had forecast the terminal rate at 5.1% by the end of June.

A majority of economists polled by Reuters before the latest data said they expected the Fed to raise rates at least twice more in the coming months, with the risk of them going higher still. None of them are expecting a rate cut this year.

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