Probability of Fed Rate Hike Doubles after PCE Report

Inflation data and continued hawkish rhetoric from Fed officials has doubles measures of a rate hike probability.

Today, the personal consumption expenditure (PCE) hit a four-year high, rising 1.9 percent year-on-year, sending the likelihood of a March interest rate hike to 67 percent, up from 35.4 percent yesterday, according to the CME FedWatch tool. (See also: BlackRock: March Interest Rate Hike Looks Likely

The core PCE index is the preferred inflation indicator for the Federal Reserve, as it strips out volatile food and energy components. Today's reading is the highest year-on-year gain since October 2012 and moves measures of inflation closer towards the Fed's 2 percent threshold of comfort. The upbeat data follows January's consumer price index (CPI) data that showed year-on-year inflation had reached 2.5 percent, a four-year high.

Source: FRED database

The upbeat PCE data follows a series of hawkish rhetoric from Fed officials. On Tuesday, New York Fed President William Dudley said the case for an interest rate hike in March has become more compelling. "After the election we've seen very large increases in household and business confidence, we've seen very buoyant financial markets - the stock market is up, credit spreads are narrow," Dudley said on CNN. 

"And we have the expectation that fiscal policy will probably move in a more stimulative direction. So, put it all together, I think the case for monetary policy tightening has become a lot more compelling."

Despite a rocky start, financial markets are warming to President Donald Trump's economic plans. At last nights Congression address, Trump promised significant tax cuts for U.S. companies and the middle class. "My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class," Trump said. (See also: Trump Addresses Joint Session of Congress)

Buoyed by the optimism, equity markets are trading higher today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) continues its march higher, breaking 21,000. Elsewhere, interest raters and the U.S. dollar are higher across the board. 

At 11 a.m. eastern time the Dow is up 1.17 percent trading at 21,055, the 2-year Treasury yield - more sensitive to rate hikes - has hit its highest level since October 2008, trading at 1.308 percent and the U.S. dollar is up 0.9 percent against the Japanese yen and 0.3 percent against the Euro

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