Yellen to Headline Final Round of Fed Speeches Before March Meeting

Maxine SotoMar 04, 2017

The Federal Reserve is set toraise its benchmark interest rate later this month as long aseconomic data on jobs and inflation holds up, Fed Chair JanetYellen said on Friday, in comments that likely cement a ratehike at its next meeting. More importantly, she dropped hints that it might end up having to increase them this year more than planned.

While US President Trump didn't impress markets with any new economic news during his Presidential address on Tuesday night, his surprisingly Presidential tone and his reassertion that he would introduce a $1trillion infrastructure programme helped to calm trader frustrations.

"At our meeting later this month, the committee will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with our expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate", Dr Yellen said at a business luncheon in Chicago. She also suggested that would not be the last increase this year.

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French politics continued to plague the euro, but the prospect of the U.S. Fed raising rates while the European Central Bank is maintaining a highly accommodative monetary policy for an indefinite time period encouraged forex players to continue selling the euro on strength. That contrasts with the "modestly accommodative" description she used in her January 19 speech in Stanford, California. She could very well give more guidance on the timing of the next Fed rate hike. Investors are betting that the era of super-low U.S. interest rates is finally coming to an end. Crandall is chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.

That's just below the Fed's official target of 2%.

During her speech, Yellen outlined the Fed's policy strategy for much of the past decade, since the financial crisis and Great Recession.

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"There's nothing that I said that would be a response to possible impending policy changes" agreed to by President Donald Trump and Congress, she said. Most notably, New York Fed President William Dudley said Tuesday that the case for a March move had become "a lot more compelling". "What that says to me is the risks to the outlook are now starting to tilt to the upside", he said in an interview broadcast on CNN International.

The FOMC likes to see the rate at 2 percent, and although inflation has consistently remained below that threshold, other positive factors have been overcompensating enough to warrant movement of the federal funds rate, in the Fed's estimation.

"On the whole, the prospects for further moderate economic growth look encouraging, particularly as risks emanating from overseas appear to have receded somewhat", Dr Yellen said.

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