Traders now see Fed policy rate hitting 5% next year

The Federal Reserve is seen driving its policy rate above 5% by May after a government report Friday showed little sign of a cooling job market, despite the central bank’s aggressive interest-rate increases so far.

After the Labor Department report, which showed U.S. employers added more jobs than expected in November, futures contracts tied to the Fed policy rate still implied a 70% chance that central bankers will slow the pace of rate hikes when they meet Dec. 13-14, rather than adding to a string of 75-basis-point rate hikes over the past four meetings.

But traders also piled into bets the Fed will continue to raise rates next year to slow the economy and demand for goods, services, and labor.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell earlier this week said the job market was so great it was “too great” for what is needed to allow price pressures to ease.

The Fed is now seen raising its policy rate, currently in the 3.75%-4% range, to 4.92% by March of next year and more likely than not into the 5%-5.25% range by May, based on futures contract prices and the CME Fedwatch tool.

Before the report, the rate was seen topping out at 4.75%-5% before the report.