Eyes on Yellen for rate-hike signals after payroll data shocks

Sun Jun 5, 2016 5:34am EDT
 
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By Leigh Thomas

PARIS (Reuters) - Investors will be looking for signals from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen this week about the U.S. central bank's next rate move after shockingly weak payroll data all but killed off chances for a hike this month.

But the focus will also not stray far from developments in Britain as voters there prepare to vote in a referendum on June 23 on whether to stay in the European Union.

Expectations for the next Fed rate hike were knocked back to at least July or later after U.S. non-farm payroll data on Friday showed U.S. employers added only 38,000 jobs in May, far below expectations of 164,000.

At an event on Monday in Philadelphia, Yellen gets her last chance to offer insight into Fed thinking before a media blackout takes effect ahead of the June 14-15 monetary policy meeting.

"We will have to listen carefully for her analysis of what definitely is a deterioration of the labor market conditions," economists at BNP Paribas wrote in a note.

Investors will be looking to see whether Yellen, who had said last month she expected interest rates to rise "in the coming months", sticks to her tune after the data.

The Fed raised its key benchmark interest rate in December for the first time in nearly a decade, but has held off since then due to concerns earlier this year about a global economic slowdown and financial market volatility.

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Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. May 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files