(Bloomberg) -- A pair of large bets in the fed funds futures market are attracting attention on Wall Street by setting aside the market-implied consensus for the Federal Reserve’s first interest-rate cut.

The wagers stand to benefit from a ramp-up in expectations that US policymakers will reduce rates as soon as July. While it’s still a far-fetched outcome — given only one basis point worth of easing is priced in by the July 31 decision — the bets underscore momentum in the market behind a cut.

One such catalyst for a shift in the market’s rate expectations could come when Fed Chair Jerome Powell gives his scheduled testimony to a Senate panel on July 9. That will take place in the week after June’s jobs report and two days ahead of the next consumer price index print.

Traders have been fine-tuning their views for the Fed’s policy path, looking for clues in economic data reports and policymaker remarks. The market is fully pricing in two quarter-point rate reductions this year, in November and December. Fed officials’ projections showed only one cut in 2024. 

Two Big Bets

The positions have so far been amassed in the August fed funds futures contracts, which expire Aug. 30 and therefore capture the July 31 policy announcement. These contracts are unaffected by policy pricing for the September meeting. Trading in rates futures — like in many other markets — is anonymous, which makes identifying buyers difficult.

One trade on Tuesday — as investors were leaving their desks before the Juneteenth holiday in the US — showed up as new risk on Thursday. The wager was a 55,000 purchase, with a risk equivalent of $2.3 million per basis point move. This means the leveraged position would profit by about $28 million if the market forecast for a July policy pricing decision becomes a 50-50 proposition.

A similar large buyer appeared last week, for a risk weighting of roughly $1.25 million per basis point. Total open interest in the August tenor now sits at the highest amount at any point in time, pushing well above 400,000 after the recent increase in wagers.

(Updates fourth and fifth paragraphs with market-implied rate cuts and more detail.)

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