March 20, 2019 / 6:40 PM / 3 months ago

Traders see nearly even chances on Fed rate cut in early 2020

Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

(Reuters) - U.S. interest rates traders on Wednesday piled on bets the Federal Reserve would cut borrowing costs in early 2020 after the central bank slashed its forecast for future rate hikes and said it would end reductions to its massive balance sheet in September.

Federal funds futures, which reflect traders’ view on Fed policy, rose after the Fed showed no hurry to raise rates further and halted its plan to shrink its holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities sooner than previously thought.

At 2:15 p.m. (1815 GMT), the fed funds contract for January 2020 delivery implied traders are pricing in a 48 percent chance of a rate cut at the first Fed policy meeting of 2020. This compared with an implied probability of 32 percent late on Tuesday, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch program.

Reporting by Ann Saphir and Richard Leong; Editing by Leslie Adler and Chizu Nomiyama

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