Prime Rate

also known as the Fed, National or United States Prime Rate,
from the interest-rate specialists at www.FedPrimeRate.comSM

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sixth FOMC Meeting of 2009 Adjourned: U.S. Prime Rate Is Unchanged At 3.25%

FOMC votes to leave short-term rates unchanged; Prime Rate holds at 3.25%The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve has just adjourned its sixth monetary policy meeting of 2009 and, in accordance with our most recent forecast, has voted to leave short-term interest rates at their current levels. Therefore, the benchmark target range for the federal funds rate will remain at 0% - 0.25%, and the United States Prime Rate (also known as the WSJ, national or Fed Prime Rate) will remain unchanged at the current 3.25%.

Here's a clip from today's FOMC press release:

"...Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in August suggests that economic activity has picked up following its severe downturn. Conditions in financial markets have improved further, and activity in the housing sector has increased. Household spending seems to be stabilizing, but remains constrained by ongoing job losses, sluggish income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. Businesses are still cutting back on fixed investment and staffing, though at a slower pace; they continue to make progress in bringing inventory stocks into better alignment with sales. Although economic activity is likely to remain weak for a time, the Committee anticipates that policy actions to stabilize financial markets and institutions, fiscal and monetary stimulus, and market forces will support a strengthening of economic growth and a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability.

With substantial resource slack likely to continue to dampen cost pressures and with longer-term inflation expectations stable, the Committee expects that inflation will remain subdued for some time.

In these circumstances, the Federal Reserve will continue to employ a wide range of tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability. The Committee will maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and continues to anticipate that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period. To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve will purchase a total of $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt. The Committee will gradually slow the pace of these purchases in order to promote a smooth transition in markets and anticipates that they will be executed by the end of the first quarter of 2010. As previously announced, the Federal Reserve’s purchases of $300 billion of Treasury securities will be completed by the end of October 2009. The Committee will continue to evaluate the timing and overall amounts of its purchases of securities in light of the evolving economic outlook and conditions in financial markets. The Federal Reserve is monitoring the size and composition of its balance sheet and will make adjustments to its credit and liquidity programs as warranted.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Donald L. Kohn; Jeffrey M. Lacker; Dennis P. Lockhart; Daniel K. Tarullo; Kevin M. Warsh; and Janet L. Yellen..."

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Futures Market 100% Certain U.S. Prime Rate Will Hold At 3.25% After Tomorrow's Monetary Policy Meeting

prime rate forecast
The Federal Open market Committee (FOMC) decided to release its decision on short-term rates tomorrow as opposed to today, but it's still an extremely safe bet that the group will vote to leave rates alone. That means the U.S. Prime Rate will remain at 3.25% after tomorrow's afternoon's announcement.

Since the employment picture is still bleak and the overall economy still needs time to return to prosperity, most rate watchers expect the Fed to keep short-rates at current levels into Q1 2010.

The fact the Fed will keep rates on hold tomorrow will come as a surprise to no one, but economists will pay particular attention to the FOMC statement which will accompany tomorrow's press release on rates. It will be interesting to see if the Fed plans on changing its stance on buying mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasuries, since pulling back on these programs could have serious consequences for the U.S. housing market. It will also be interesting to see if any FOMC members break from consensus and vote instead for an increase for short-term rates, a development that could portend an end to ultra-low interest rates sooner than most economists are currently predicting.

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As of right now, the investors who trade in fed funds futures at the Chicago Board of Trade have odds at 100% (as implied by current pricing on contracts) that the FOMC will vote to leave the benchmark target range for the Federal Funds Rate at its current level at tomorrow's monetary policy meeting.


Summary of the Latest Prime Rate Forecast:
  • Current odds that the Prime Rate will remain at the current 3.25% after tomorrow's monetary policy meeting is adjourned: 100% (certain)
  • NB: U.S. Prime Rate = (The Federal Funds Target Rate + 3)

The odds related to federal-funds futures contracts -- widely accepted as the best predictor of where the FOMC will take the benchmark Fed Funds Target Rate -- are constantly changing, so stay tuned for the latest odds.

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