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Rate-Hike Bets Show Traders Doubt Fed Will Ride to Rescue on Equities


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© Bloomberg. The Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

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(Bloomberg) — Interest-rate markets remain resolute in anticipating that the Federal Reserve will plow on with even as riskier assets tumble globally and geopolitical discord ramps up. 

Precipitous declines in U.S. stocks and other risk assets have historically given pause to policy makers, giving rise to the notion of a so-called Fed put for American equities. But this time around, bets on benchmark hikes this year are intact even amid the current tumble, which has seen the technology-heavy slump.

Swap markets show a quarter-point Fed rate increase is priced in for March and close to a full percentage point is in the market for the whole of 2022. 

The yield on the Treasury, a tenor that’s closely linked to central bank expectations, is actually up a basis point in Monday trading at about 1.01% even as fears around Russia and other issues weigh on equity futures. The government is slated to auction two-year notes later in the day.

One key difference now is that the Fed, focused as it is on heightened inflation, may not have scope to promise support even if officials wanted to. And indeed it is the very concern about just how much the Fed might need to tighten that is adding fuel to selloffs in shares.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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