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The Fed is 'carefully' laying the groundwork for a rate cut this year, analysts say

Key Points
  • The Fed's language indicates the central bank could be laying the groundwork for an interest rate cut in July or later this year, analysts say.
  • "I think that's bond positive, I think that's equity positive, and we'll see how this plays out," John Bellows of Western Asset Management says.
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Very reasonable to think Fed will cut rates twice this year: Strategist

The Federal Reserve's language indicates the central bank could be laying the groundwork for an interest rate cut in July or later this year, analysts told CNBC on Wednesday.

They spoke shortly after the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-1 to keep the benchmark rate in a target range of 2.25% to 2.5%, sending U.S. stocks higher in midafternoon trading.

The central bank predicted one or two rate cuts but not until 2020. However, the committee in its post-meeting statement scrapped the word "patient" to describe its approach to policy, possibly indicating the central bank could be ready to cut as soon as July, analysts said.

"What you're seeing today is the kind of careful laying of the groundwork" for an easing in monetary policy, John Bellows, portfolio manager at Western Asset Management, said on "Power Lunch. " "I think that's bond positive, I think that's equity positive, and we'll see how this plays out."

Bellows added the Fed is also being cautious about appearing to counteract trade policy out of the White House.

With signs of a slowing economy and concerns about the U.S.-China trade war, talk in the markets earlier this year about the Fed holding steady for a while has turned to calls for a cut or even multiple cuts in 2019.

David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds, agreed a rate cut is on the table for later this year. But Kelly said he's concerned rate cuts could actually harm the economy instead of help as people hold out for lower rates.

"I think we're in some dangerous territory here," Kelly told "Power Lunch." "If they cut in July, everybody is going to expect them to cut again. ... So, people will just build in a series of rate cuts and as rates fall people will [say], 'Why don't I just wait awhile here, see if I can borrow at cheaper rates."

However, conservative economic pundit Stephen Moore, who withdrew his bid to be appointed to the Fed in May, thinks the central bank made a mistake on Wednesday by not cutting rates.

"There is no whiff of inflation anywhere in the economy. If anything, the problem is falling prices. The Fed should get ahead of the curve of that," Moore, a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation think tank, said on "Closing Bell. "

"They should have cut rates by 25 basis points and reversed the mistake they made back in December," he added. "I view this as, kind of, an anti-growth move by the Fed."

— CNBC's Michelle Fox, Matthew Belvedere and Jeff Cox contributed to this report.