Fed to hold rates steady amid global divergence in monetary policy

The Federal Reserve will almost certainly hold US interest rates steady at the current 23-year high on Wednesday, and investors need to review their portfolios amid a divergence in global monetary policy.

This is the message from Nigel Green, the CEO of deVere Group, one of the world's largest independent financial advisory and asset management organisations, as the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report shows no increase in inflation for May, a sign that inflation may be easing its grip on the US economy. 

He comments: "With the annual CPI increase at 3.3%, markets might be hopeful for potentially more rate cuts, but there remains a real risk that the Fed's cautious approach means that such a move may not come until 2025.

"The Labor Department's CPI report, a key gauge of inflation that tracks the cost of a broad basket of goods and services, remained flat from the previous month. 

"This lighter-than-expected inflation data has led some market participants to price in the possibility of rate cuts. 

"However, one positive data point is not enough for the US central bank to change course. 

"We expect Chair Jay Powell will confirm our prediction in the press conference."

Federal Reserve officials cite the robust labour market as a significant factor in their decision to maintain the current rate. The strength of the job market provides the Fed with the flexibility to keep rates elevated, contrasting sharply with recent actions by other major central banks. 

Last week, the Eurozone and Canada both opted to cut their rates, and Mexico has also initiated rate reductions.

"This divergence in monetary policy presents a complex landscape for investors," notes the deVere CEO.

"As the US central bank maintains a tighter stance, global markets are experiencing varying degrees of monetary easing. For investors, this scenario necessitates a reassessment of strategies and portfolios."

With the Fed's rates remaining high, sectors such as real estate and utilities, which are sensitive to interest rates, may face headwinds. On the other hand, financials might benefit from higher rates due to increased margins on lending.

As other central banks cut rates, opportunities may arise in international markets. For instance, the Eurozone and Canadian markets could become more attractive as their monetary policies become more accommodative.

Divergent monetary policies also typically lead to currency volatility. Investors should be mindful of potential impacts on their international investments and consider strategies such as currency hedging to mitigate risks.

The future path of Fed policy will be heavily influenced by upcoming economic data. Investors should keep a close eye on reports related to employment, inflation, and GDP growth to anticipate potential shifts in the Fed's stance.

Nigel Green concludes: "The Fed is almost certainly going to keep rates steady amid easing inflation, which signals a cautious approach, prioritising long-term economic stability over short-term market reactions. 

"This stance contrasts with recent rate cuts by other central banks, highlighting a global divergence in monetary policy. 

"For investors, this new environment requires careful consideration of interest rate impacts, global opportunities, currency risks, and inflation protection."

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