While the US Federal Reserve is widely expected to leave interest rates --currently at a 22-year high of between 5.25% to 5.5%--unchanged during Wednesday's meeting, investors will keenly parse any accompanying statements from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) for signals on future moves.
According to the CME FedWatch tool on Wednesday, bankers and traders see a 99.7% chance of the Fed skipping a rate hike this month. They also see nearly 73% chance of the Fed leaving rates unchanged in December as well, CME's data showed.
Gary Dugan, Chief Investment Officer at Dalma Capital, in a recent note, while said any rate changes were unlikely this month, the possibility exists of one in the next month's meeting.
"It is evident that the US economy is operating at full throttle, marked by remarkably low unemployment levels. However, this level of growth also exacerbates the spectre of inflation. While the Federal Reserve may not make any rate adjustments this week, the possibility of a rate hike in the following meeting is certainly on the table," he added.
Analysts at BofA Securities also expect the Fed to hold rates steady despite accelerating GDP and employment. "The Fed has adopted a more cautious tone due to the US treasury long-end rate rise, arguing rates markets have done some of its tightening."
According to Saxo Bank's market strategist Charu Chanana: "In our view, the Fed is done, not just for this meeting, but for the cycle and the next move will be a rate cut. However, there is no dot plot at this week’s meeting, so it remains hard to gauge the thinking of Fed members about when the first-rate cut could come. The post-FOMC press conference could be key here, and more push on the higher-for-longer message could still come as officials try to avoid the market un-doing the work it has done for the Fed."
If the US central bank does hike rates, a few of its GCC counterparts are likely to mirror the move as their currencies are pegged to the dollar.
(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)