Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Fed raises interest rates as unemployment nears record lows

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The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaled that it may step up its pace of rate increases because of solid USA economic growth and rising inflation.

When the Fed last released the dots back in March this year, the median member forecast was for the funds rate to increase three times in 2018.

The Fed's twin mandate is to bolster employment while controlling inflation, and in the current environment more rate rises appear inevitable. The media forecasts expect the unemployment rate to drop to 3.6% this year, down from March's projection of 3.8%.

The Fed is looking for interest rates to rise to 3.4% by 2020, unchanged from the previous forecast.

They see another three rate increases next year, a pace unchanged from their previous forecast.

The Fed said it would.

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The Fed said its policy of further gradual rate increases will be "consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee's symmetric 2 percent objective".

Negative for gold though is that the central bank also forecasts tame inflation pressures throughout year.

Inflation, which has been mysteriously low during the long economic recovery, has finally passed 2%, the level the Fed considers healthy. He'll likely address the decision to hike rates and the Fed's views on the overall economic outlook.

The rate increase was in line with investors' expectations and showed policymakers' confidence in the economy's growth prospects, continued low unemployment and steady inflation.

More than today's rate hike, the gold market is reacting to the Federal Reserve's guidance on future interest rates.

In a technical move, the central bank also made a decision to set the interest rate it pays banks on excess reserves - its chief tool for moderating short-term interest rates - at just below the upper level of its target range. While the national economy appears to be on solid ground for 2018, the Fed must now consider how growing global trade disputes could slow USA growth. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate recently hit a seven-year high, before retreating a bit to 4.54 percent.

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