Chance of March US Federal Reserve interest rate hike increases

Posted March 04, 2017

The central bank's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee is set to convene at its two-day meeting starting March 14.

Most analysts now expect the Fed to push rates higher by another 0.25 per cent in March, following the hike in December.

Market expectations for a rate hike this month are above 60 percent, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

The Federal Reserve is setting the stage for a USA interest-rate increase later this month, with the central bank's leading voice on worldwide economics saying the global economy seems to have turned a corner, clearing the way for a hike "soon".

Climbing stock prices may prompt the Fed to move quickly. Analysts say the central bank is likely to closely scrutinize the monthly jobs data, which will be released on March 10, for any signs the economy is departing from its charted course.

One of the main measures the Fed committee looks for when evaluating further hikes is the rate of inflation.

On the other side, Fed officials have largely continued to speak optimistically about a near-term U.S. interest rate hike, with Patrick Harker repeating that 3 rate hikes are likely in 2017.

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With indexes bolstered this week by increased bets on a rate hike soon, any divergence from Yellen would raise questions, said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

When the Fed published its economic forecasts for the next three years in December it suggested that the Federal Funds rate may rise to 1.4% in 2017, 2.1% in 2018, and 2.9% in 2019.

"Gold price may see a little bit of selling pressure at this moment on hawkish comments coming from the Fed officials".

Analysts said the rate increase had largely been priced in before Yellen's comments, sending the dollar lower on Friday afternoon as some investors took profits. Brainard was a key voice throughout 2015 and 2016 in warning that trouble in Europe and slower-than-expected growth in China could hurt the United States, an argument that helped slow the Fed's expected pace of tightening.

Given how integral strong services growth is to United Kingdom economic stability, a large drop is likely to exacerbate existing concerns about how the United Kingdom economy will fare once Brexit has been completed. By calling for rate hikes before Trump's big speech, policymakers may be trying to avoid the appearance of reacting to his stimulus plans.

The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 24 new highs and 12 new lows. That was the largest 12-month gain in almost five years and just below the Fed's 2% target for inflation. "The economy has essentially met the employment portion of our mandate and inflation is moving closer to our 2 percent objective", she said.