January 5, 2018 / 1:54 PM / in a year

Traders keep bets on two Fed rate hikes after jobs report

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington September 16 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

(Reuters) - Traders of U.S. short-term interest-rate futures continued to bet the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates just two times this year after a U.S. government report showed employers added fewer jobs than expected in December, even as wages picked up.

The “soggy” data will do little to convince the Fed it needs to do much more to tighten policy, according to Mark McCormick, North American head of Fx strategy at TD Securities in Toronto.

“We think this could reduce the chances of a March hike,” McCormick said. Fed policymakers last month saw three rate hikes this year as likely appropriate.

Still, rate-futures traders continued to heavily price in a March rate hike even after the report, giving it about a 78 percent chance based on a Reuters analysis of fed funds futures contracts traded at CME Group Inc. They were also pricing in a second rate hike, as early as June but more likely later in the year.

Reporting by Ann Saphir in San Francisco with reporting by Gertrude Chavez in New York.; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay

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