The Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates again before the end of December. According to one report from Yahoo! Finance, the minutes from the latest meeting of the Fed’s leadership stated that the next rate increase — the fourth raise this year — is expected to happen “fairly soon.” The Balance reports that the previous raises this year occurred in March, June, and September.
While the Fed is fairly sure in their position to increase rates later this year, the current group remains undecided about the Fed’s path in 2019. Some of the Fed’s leadership expressed concerns that an additional rate hike in the first few months of 2019 could “slow” the US economy. These fears have been exasperated by the recent signs of the US stock market’s vulnerability.
Despite the indecision of the Fed’s plan for next year, the group was much clearer about its intentions to design a more flexible strategy based on real-time financial data, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. With this mindset, the Fed leadership’s plan will not be “set in stone.” While the group always considers the current economic climate, sometimes the rate increases have been practically “pre-scheduled.”
“It is less of a foregone conclusion that they’re going to be hiking at every other meeting,” said JPMorgan Chase’s chief US economist Michael Feroli during an interview.
Among the factor’s the Fed is examining concerning 2019’s rate increase schedule are current trade tensions with the Chinese — as well as with other nations — the Trump administration’s fiscal policy, the delayed “effects of current Fed policy,” and the current “corporate debt” levels, reports the Wall Street Journal. The general malaise of the world’s economy was also discussed, as was latest inflation predictions.
“There is no preset policy,” said Jerome Powell, the Fed’s Chairman, according to the minutes. “We will be paying very close attention to what incoming economic and financial data are telling us.”
Despite the board’s concerns, many top Fed executives remain calm regarding the stock market’s poor performance in October. Although the number of houses sold in the US declined in October, the “job growth rate” grew. Oil prices also fell after the Iranian sanctions were amended at the 11th hour to grant exceptions for many of the Gulf state’s biggest customers. With more crude hitting the market than anticipated, many are anticipating the bloated supply to push the price down further.
Investors earlier this week appeared spooked by the Fed’s planned rate increase later this month. One report from the Washington Post states that the US stock markets continued a slow spiral downward on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing 799 points while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 lost 3.8 percent and 3.2 percent respectively. Other factors, mainly the current trade talks with China, have also weighed the markets down.