Central banks from Washington to Tokyo take centre stage next week, although policymakers are likely to remain cautious as they wait for the dust to settle from Britain’s shock vote to leave the European Union.
As they wait for political reassurances and greater clarity over the likely impact of the move, central banks have mostly avoided action since the Brexit referendum, calming jittery markets with verbal assurances but leaving the burden on governments to chart a path.
Indeed, the US Federal Reserve is all but certain to keep interest rates on hold this Wednesday, acknowledging improved economic prospects but offering few hints about its next move, keen to avoid repeating its past mistake of stoking rate hike expectations.
The next move is still seen as an increase in rates. But even as concerns over Brexit ease the US election is drawing closer, likely pushing back action towards the end of the year and possibly limiting the Fed to a single hike in 2016, a far cry from its early-year estimate for four moves. Analysts polled by Reuters also see the next move in the fourth quarter, while futures imply a move closer to mid-2017.
For the Bank of Japan, struggling with low inflation, next Friday’s rate decision will be a close call – with markets simmering with speculation that it will have to ease policy.
It is likely to cut its inflation forecasts but only slightly, which may allow the bank to justify ‘standing pat’ for the time being.
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