Wall Street was listening carefully when the Fed released its October statement Wednesday, but at least one market pro thinks we should take what the FOMC said with a grain of salt.
The hawkish messaging in the statement suggests a December rate hike is still in play, but the economic data isn't showing the signs of strength needed to justify a liftoff that soon, said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets
"I think the [October] statement was more about messaging than anything else," said Hewson, who is based in London. "I think they wanted to keep the option open for a December rate rise even though the data currently suggests that they're probably not going to do anything."
On Thursday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the economy grew just 1.5% during the third quarter. That was slightly below estimates and well below the 3.9% print during second quarter. Consumer spending rose 3.6% during the quarter, compared to 3.2% in second quarter.
Beyond that, inflation continues to be soft, with the core personal consumption expenditure price index (PCEPI) posting just a 1.3% rise year-over-year as of August, far below the Fed's 2% target. The September PCEPI will be released on Friday.
Hewson said if the Fed was going to raise interest rates in December, they would need to look past those low inflation numbers.
A month ago, the Fed shocked markets in its September statement when it pointed to global economic and financial developments as its reason for not raising rates. Central bankers were largely referring to the weakness seen in China and emerging markets, which they felt could hurt the U.S. economy.
In its October statement, the Fed said it was "monitoring" these financial developments, which puzzled Hewson.
"If you look at the data we saw in the weeks up to September, I would say it was much better than it is now, yet in September we got a dovish [statement from the Fed]," he said.