The Federal Reserve delivered a policy statement that roughly matched the increase in its recent rhetoric toward inflation risks by both upgrading its assessment of current economic conditions and by adding new language indicating discomfort with the inflation situation.
Nothing within the statement indicates an imminent rate hike, but the statement represents the second step along the path to an eventual rate hike, with the first step being the April 30th indication at an inclination to stop cutting rates.
Today's actual stoppage is the second step. The third step will be a policy statement or major speech that hints at the likelihood at a hike at a subsequent meeting, which means that the earliest there is likely to be a hike is September 16th, although the news flow probably won't be supportive of a hike, since any turnaround will remain unconvincing by that time.
Today's statement is probably tough enough to give a bit of an underpinning to the dollar and perhaps keep commodity prices from firming substantially more, but there are many more forces at play in these markets. Moreover, the Fed's emphasis on weak labor markets and stress in the financial markets will be seen as a signal that no rate hike is imminent, which could limit the extent to which the dollar is underpinned and commodities hence beaten down.
Tony Crescenzi is the Chief Bond Market Strategist at Miller Tabak + Co., LLC where he advises many of the nation's top institutional investors on issues related to the bond market, the economy and other macro-related issues. Crescenzi makes regular appearances on financial television stations such as CNBC and Bloomberg, and is frequently quoted across the news media. He is also the co-author of the just-revised "The Money Market" and "The Strategic Bond Investor."