U.S. stock markets are in the midst of a “‘patient’ panic” ahead of Wednesday’s Federal Reserve statement, when many investors expect a change in the Fed’s language that would send the clearest signal yet that a rate hike is coming soon.
The S&P 500 has fallen 2.6 percent since February’s stronger-than-expected jobs report a week ago boosted expectations for an interest rate increase as soon as June.
Stocks may fall further if Fed Chair Janet Yellen drops a pledge to be “patient” about rate hikes in the Fed’s statement after the upcoming policy meeting. Most economists expect her to erase that word as a precursor to starting rate hikes in June, according to a Reuters Poll.
Fed fund futures contracts, however, show futures traders still expect the first increase in September, putting just 19 percent odds on a June rate hike, compared with a 58 percent probability for September, according to CME Group FedWatch.