Tags: interest | rate | futures

Fed Funds Futures Point to Higher Rates

Tuesday, 09 Jun 2009 01:03 PM

By Dan Weil

Financial market participants are clearly concerned that massive U.S. fiscal and monetary stimulus will spark vicious inflation.

So much so that federal funds futures traders are betting the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates soon.

On Friday, fed funds futures contracts indicated a 70 percent chance that the central bank will increase the fed funds rate to at least 0.5 percent by November.

That probability rose sharply from 27 percent Thursday after news that job losses slowed markedly in May.

The fed funds rate, charged on overnight loans between banks, now stands at zero to 0.25 percent.

“The market is pricing in some kind of action by the Fed by the end of the year,” Lou Brien, a strategist at DRW Trading Group, told Bloomberg.

“The payroll number — which is really what we always trade off of — was quite a bit stronger than expected. You get knee-jerk reactions to data like this.”

Payrolls fell 345,000 in May, the smallest drop in eight months.

Some say talk of Fed tightening is premature.

“Although the Fed is looking for exit strategies, I don’t think anyone at the Fed is anywhere near contemplating raising rates,” Gavin Friend, a strategist at National Australia Bank, tells Bloomberg.

Still, many are concerned about potential inflation.

Universa Investments, a hedge fund manager affiliated with renowned investor Nassim Taleb, is opening a fund to benefit from a surge in inflation, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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