Fed says growing economy, inflation will make case for rate hike
Fed says growing economy, inflation will make case for rate hike
Source 1 NEWS
22 February, 2018, 18:27
If the Fed moves three times by its September meeting, its benchmark rate will be positive after adjusting for inflation for the first time in more than a decade, prompting the central bank to pause quarterly rate rises and see how the economy is responding, said Ellen Zentner, chief USA economist at Morgan Stanley, in a client note Tuesday. The average prime 30-year fixed mortgage rate quoted on Zillow ended Wednesday at 4.23 percent, holding near four-year highs. Concerns about it - and higher interest rates - helped plunge the stock market into a correction.
The meeting, the final gathering led by former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, concluded 31 January. According to implied probabilities on Bloomberg, traders see a 100% chance that the first hike would come at the March 20-21 meeting, when Fed Chairman Jerome Powell holds his first press conference and new economic forecasts are released.
"The Fed is finding more confidence in their baseline outlook", said Harm Bandholz, chief United States economist at UniCredit Bank, who is forecasting three more rate increases for 2018.
Participants in the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting pointed to the tax cuts and the improved global economic outlook as factors supporting U.S. growth this year, and many upgraded their forecasts, even while cautioning that the impact of the tax cuts is not yet clear.
FOMC member projections on the so-called dot plot in December showed that they expected to raise interest rates three times this year. The minutes from January do not indicate whether any officials were pushing for more.
However, many Fed officials downplayed the impact from the market turbulence, saying they would stick to their forecast of stronger growth outlook and gradual rate hike pace. Fed officials said the better-than-anticipated growth in fourth quarter of 2017, consistent job gains and stimulus from the GOP tax bill factored into their decisions.
Still, Fed officials noted "considerable uncertainty" remained around a number of federal government policies that could affect the economy.
The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates next month, the first of what many at the Fed believe should be three rate hikes this year. The labor market trend also appears to be stable.
Analysts expect many more companies to use most of their tax savings to buy back their own stock or to increase their dividends.
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