The Federal Reserve sees no reason to revise its long-term plan for interest rate hikes even as softening inflation data raised questions on Wall Street. But now, central bank members need to justify their glass-half-full mentality.
The Federal Open Market Committee, the monetary policy arm of the U.S. central bank, recently raised interest rates by 0.25%, as analysts expected, and forecast a steady string of increases through to 2018.
Fed members also pegged recent softening in inflation data as transitory, though committed to monitoring developments closely. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference that "one-off" price decreases were responsible for soft inflation.
"The Fed is worried about inflation tomorrow, not today," Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America, told TheStreet. "They may see [recent softening] as a little more entrenched than they would like but they're [also] seeing unemployment being very low and likely to continue to go lower. As a result it's prudent on their part to maintain the path of raising interest rates."
Core producer prices in May declined, while consumer prices rose at half their expected pace last month. Data on consumer price data have disappointed for three straight months.
Fed officials will get their chance to justify a hawkish stance in the coming week -- the economic calendar is filled with Fed speeches and comments.
On Monday, June 19, New York Fed President William Dudley will address the Business Roundtable Meeting in upstate New York, while Chicago Fed President will speak on the economy and monetary policy at the Money Marketeers of New York University in New York.
On Tuesday, June 20, Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer will deliver the keynote address and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren will discuss financial stability in low interest rate environments at the DNB-Riksbank Macroprudential Conference Series in Amsterdam. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan also will discuss the economy and Fed policy at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
Finally, on Friday, June 23, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard will remark on the U.S. economy at the Illinois Bankers Association Annual Conference, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will discuss economic inequality at a policy summit, and Fed Gov. Jerome Powell will attend the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Symposium on Central Clearing.
t's a quieter week elsewhere on the economic calendar. Existing home sales for May will be released on Wednesday, June 21, while the flash reading of the Composite Purchasing Managers' Index for June, and new home sales for May are scheduled for release on Friday.
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