Top Stories
Top Stories
Wires

UPDATE 2-Trump's new tariffs may set stage for more Fed rate cuts

Ann Saphir and Richard Leong

(Recasts lead paragraph; adds comments, background)

Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's decision Thursday to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports has once more thrown the Federal Reserve a curve ball that may force the central bank to again cut interest rates to protect the U.S. economy from trade-policy risks. In a series of tweets, Trump said he will slap 10% tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports starting Sept. 1.

Trump announced a first tranche of duties, of 25% on $200 billion of Chinese goods, in May. The tariffs are aimed at putting pressure on the world's second biggest economy to strike a trade deal.

The drag those tariffs and other Trump trade policies have had on business sentiment and investment was a key driver of the Fed's decision this week to cut interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said he viewed the cut as an insurance policy against the effects of trade uncertainty, weak global growth and low inflation, calling it a "mid-cycle adjustment" and not a start to a lengthy rate-cutting cycle.

If trade troubles deepen into a full blown trade war, DRW Holdings analyst Lou Brien said, "Any further Fed rate cuts will no longer be considered mid-course adjustments so much as they will be thought of as necessities to prevent a recession."

Traders are betting the new tariffs make a longer rate-cutting cycle more likely.

U.S. interest rate futures rallied as traders piled on bets that the central bank will cut rates two more times by year's end and reduce them further next year to offset risks from the escalating trade war.

Fed funds futures implied traders now see a 70% chance the Fed would lower rates again in September, up from 51% late on Wednesday, CME Group's FedWatch tool showed.

The fed funds complex suggested traders are rebuilding bets on a possible third rate cut by year-end with an implied 60% chance for such a move, up from 39% late Wednesday.

"The key word is 'uncertainty," said Richard Bernstein, chief executive at Richard Bernstein Advisors in New York. "Uncertainty acts like the Fed tightening. It raises risk premiums and stymies activity. Full stop."

(Additional reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Leslie Adler, Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman)