Federal Reserve raises interest rates as attention turns to 2018

Fed Chair Janet Yellen

Federal Reserve raises interest rates as attention turns to 2018

The Federal Reserve is raising its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year, signaling its confidence that the USA economy remains on solid footing 8½ years after the end of the Great Recession.

The greenback had also weakened on Wednesday after USA core consumer price data showed slowing inflation, raising concerns the Fed will be less able to execute multiple rate increases next year.

Still, the outgoing Fed chair said the US central bank welcomed tax changes to help grow the economy.

But Yellen's replacement, Jerome Powell, signed up to the hike, continuing an unbroken record of voting with the Fed chair.

"I think all of us agree that it is appropriate to tailor regulatory requirements ... to the systemic footprint of firms", Yellen said.

Despite concerns from Democrats about the bank regulatory views of Federal Reserve Board officials who will lead the central bank following the departure of Janet Yellen, the current Fed chair said Wednesday that she is not anxious.

Trump has said his tax package will increase growth to 4%, a figure Yellen described as "challenging".

Still, Mizuho Bank senior economist Vishnu Varathan said the Fed's rate hike transmission to the Singapore interbank offered rate (Sibor) may also be partly dampened by Singdollar appreciation expectations, which have already muted the pickup in the swap offered rate.

The committee's expectations for rate hikes in 2018 also seemed to have converged on three additional rate hikes, with six members expecting three hikes in 2018 and an additional six seeing either two or four hikes. But in resuming its rate hikes, the Fed is acknowledging the steady strengthening of the US job market, which is benefiting from a sturdier global economy.

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The central bank officials still envisioned three more rate hikes in 2018, unchanged from their forecast in September, according to the latest quarterly projections released on Wednesday.

"The market has long anticipated the Fed's base rate increase this month", Bank of Korea (BOK) Gov.

USA stocks extended their gains after the release of the policy statement, while Treasury yields dropped to session lows.

"Nonetheless, the trend of rising interest rates are unlikely to be reversed in the coming years and as such, mortgage servicing burden is expected to grow at the margin", he added.

Bitcoin debuted on the Chicago Board Options Exchange last Sunday, and futures will begin trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on December 17-18. But growth would then slip back closer to its recent 2 per cent average.

Yellen said tax reform was one factor among many that policy makers considered in lifting the country's economic prospects next year.

He said the Fed remained less "hawkish" than expected despite an upgrade in growth forecast.

The departing Fed chair did confess one regret about her (quite successful) tenure - despite years of near-zero interest rates, inflation remains stubbornly below the central bank's 2 percent target.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said the weak inflation is fuelling market doubt over the Fed's ability to hike rates that much in 2018.

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