Here’s what to look for when the Federal Reserve releases minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s June 17-18 meeting at 2 p.m. today in Washington. Lift-off timing: Any indication of how close the Fed is to its first interest-rate increase since 2006 is “the most important question” the minutes could answer, said Guy Berger, a U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. The minutes could reveal a growing sentiment that Fed officials “feel like they are moving toward the lift-off date faster than they previously anticipated,” even if they “haven’t quite reached a consensus on it yet,” he said.
Updated FOMC forecasts for unemployment, inflation, and the federal funds rate released in June “suggest that there are certainly people, relative to where they were three or six months ago, who are more optimistic about the recovery,” Berger said.
The question is whether the views of hawkish FOMC members, who would rather see rates rise sooner, are “gaining much traction within the committee,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Pierpont Securities LLC in Stamford, and a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.