Fed's Harker doesn't see need for another rate cut, says central bank should stay here 'for a while'

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Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said Thursday that while he reluctantly supported the central bank’s rate cut in July, he doesn’t see the case for additional stimulus.

“We’re roughly where neutral is. It’s hard to know exactly where neutral is, but I think we’re roughly where neutral is right now. And I think we should stay here for a while and see how things play out,” Harker told CNBC’s Steve Liesman from the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

At its July policy meeting the Federal Reserve appeased the markets by cutting the target range for its overnight lending rate 25 basis points, to a target range of 2% to 2.25%. This marked the first rate cut since the start of the financial recession more than a decade ago.

Harker, who isn’t a current FOMC voting member, said that while he offered tepid support for the central bank’s 25-basis-point cut in July, he’d prefer to wait and see before advocating for more easing. 

Asked if he sees a case for further stimulus, Harker replied “No. Not right now.”

“The labor markets are strong, inflation is moving up slowly — but with the last CPI print, it was a good print,” he said.

Following Harker’s comments, the bond market’s main yield curve inverted for the third time in less than two weeks. The yield on the 2-year Treasury was at 1.601% while the 10-year yield was below at 1.597%.

Harker was not the only central banker commenting on the level of interest rates Thursday morning. Bonds ticked up after Kansas City Fed President Esther George said the July rate cut was not “necessary. ” 

Though investors remained confident on Thursday that the central bank will cut again in September, those expectations waned following the Fed commentary.

Traders were pricing in a 90% probability of a 25 basis point cut following Harker’s and George’s comments, according to the CME’s FedWatch Tool, down about 8 percentage points from the prior session.

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