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Fed likely to discuss next week when to halt hikes

Federal Reserve officials next week are almost certain to approve another deceleration in interest rate hikes while also discussing when to stop the increases altogether, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee is set to convene Jan. 31-Feb. 1, with markets pricing in almost a 100% chance of a quarter-point increase in the central bank’s benchmark rate. Most prominently, Fed Governor Christopher Waller said Friday he sees a 0.25 percentage point increase as the preferred move for the upcoming meeting.

However, Waller said he doesn’t think the Fed is done tightening yet, and several other central bankers in recent days have backed up that notion.

The Journal report, citing public statements from policymakers, said slowing the pace of hikes could provide the chance to assess what impact the increases so far are having on the economy. A series of rate hikes begun in March 2022 has resulted in increases of 4.25 percentage points.

Market pricing is currently indicating quarter-point hikes at the next two meetings, a period of no action, and then up to a half-point reduction by the end of 2023, according to CME Group data.

However, several officials, including Governor Lael Brainard and New York Fed President John Williams, have used the expression “stay the course” to describe the future policy path.

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