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Here’s why the Fed may not be done cutting rates

The Federal Reserve will leave interest rates where they are when it meets Wednesday. With traders pricing in a nearly 98% chance that rates will remain steady, that’s about as close to a slam dunk decision as you can get.

But what happens in 2020 is anybody’s guess, according to Danielle DiMartino Booth, CEO and chief strategist at Quill Intelligence.

DiMartino Booth will be talking about the Fed with CNN Business correspondent Alison Kosik on the Markets Now show Wednesday afternoon at 12:45 ET.

Despite concerns that the trade war with China would hurt the broader economy and Corporate America, stocks remain near all-time highs and consumers keep spending. That gives the Fed good reason to do nothing after three rate cuts earlier this year.

“The Fed will stand pat on Wednesday and cannot sound too hawkish,” DiMartino Booth told CNN Business, meaning that it is unlikely to hint at any future rate hikes.

In fact, the lack of any significant inflation pressure means that the Fed could once again cut rates in 2020 if the economy starts to lose some steam. The Fed typically raises rates when it is concerned that prices are rising too rapidly.

But DiMartino Booth told CNN Business in an email that the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the core Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, is rising at a tepid pace. The index, which excludes food and energy prices, was up just 1.6% in October. That’s below the Fed’s 2% target for core PCE and is also a drop from readings in August and September.

On a CNN Business “Markets Now” show before the Fed’s last meeting in October, DiMartino Booth said that recent jobs weakness in the manufacturing and energy sectors may give the Fed pause as well.

To that end, the market is currently pricing in a toss-up as to whether the federal funds rate will remain at current levels of 1.5% to 1.75% by next September or be lower than that.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. DiMartino Booth will also talk about how stocks remain near record highs. She said that “markets are determined to rally from here, hanging on every bit of good news and fading any source of pessimism.”

Like many others on Wall Street, DiMartino Booth is keeping a close eye on trade talks between the US and China. She said in the email to CNN Business that a “meaningful resolution to the trade war is likely the only thing that can reverse the planned slowdown in the factory sector” and that investors will be “hyper-sensitive to any news on the tariff front.”

DiMartino Booth is hopeful that China may blink in talks with the Trump administration because recent data about weak Chinese exports show that “it’s clear the Chinese need this trade deal.”

“Markets Now” streams live from the New York Stock Exchange every Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET. Hosted by CNN Business correspondents, the 15-minute program features incisive commentary from experts.

You can watch “Markets Now” at CNN.com/MarketsNow from your desk or on your phone or tablet. If you can’t catch the show live, check out highlights online and through the Markets Now newsletter, delivered to your inbox every afternoon.

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