At the end of the day, the doves rule the roost at the Fed, but expect to hear more hawkishness from behind the scenes in Wednesday's release of the Fed meeting minutes.
There's an especially high level of interest in the minutes from January's Federal Open Market Committee meeting, after the December minutes rocked the markets. Those minutes, released January 2, noted that several FOMC members wanted to see quantitative easing stopped or slowed by the end of this year, earlier than expected. Even though unlikely, that comment helped drive up interest rates, and the 10-year note has held at a slightly higher level around 2 percent since then.
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"The minutes should be interesting," said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies. "There's clearly contention, and this will give us a little insight into that. I think they come out similar to December – a little confused; a little contentious; yes dovish, but not indefinitely."
Under its quantitative easing program, the Fed is purchasing $85 billion in Treasurys and mortgage securities each month, in an effort to drive rates lower and keep mortgage rates low. The Fed said "almost all" members at that December meeting thought the asset purchase program that started in September was effective and supports growth, but they were concerned about the benefits versus the costs of ongoing purchases.
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"We might hear the same hawkishness, but we won't care because it was in the December minutes," said Ian Lyngen, senior Treasury strategist at CRT Capital. "We won't get the same response. It's not that they won't be making headlines. We have a new dissenter. It's the first time (Kansas City Fed President) Esther George dissented and her objections might be seen in greater detail."
The Fed also reported that "various members" in December said they thought a continuing assessment of the labor market and reviews of the effectiveness of QE and its costs were important.
"This could be a moment to explain what they meant instead of reinforcing that they want to stop," said George Goncalves, Treasury strategist at Nomura Americas.
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"They probably got a little bit nervous given the reaction the bond market had in January. They also worried if they keep giving signals they want to stop QE at some point in the future and that elicits a selloff in bonds that probably hurts the recovery and is counterproductive. I think the doves probably get the message across," he said. Goncalves said further rate increases could pressure mortgage rates, and hurt the housing recovery.
Several FOMC members joined or exited voting posts between the December and January meeting, but analysts' don't see a change of balance on the board. The dovish position is firmly anchored by Chairman Ben Bernanke, Vice Chair Janet Yellen and New York Fed President William Dudley.