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Wall Street vs. the Fed: The future of interest rate hikes in 2019

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference
Traders work on the floor of the NYSE as Fed chair Jerome Powell holds a news conference. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The market is betting that the Federal Reserve won't be able to raise rates at all next year, while the Fed's projections show policymakers think they'll raise rates twice by next December.

The bottom line: Investors who play in the futures contracts market are putting their money where their mouths are in expectation that central bankers are either bluffing or deluding themselves.

The big picture: Fed funds futures prices show investors see just a 47% chance interest rate rise from 2.25–2.50% (where they are now) to 2.50–2.75% by December 2019, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool. That would be one 25-basis-point increase, which the Fed has now done four times in 2018.

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