Fed Still Open to H2 Rate Rise

Federal Reserve policy makers left open the possibility of raising interest rates in the second half of this year by playing down the significance of the economy’s slowdown to a near-standstill in the first quarter.

In a statement issued Wednesday after a two-day meeting, Chair Janet Yellen and her colleagues blamed the winter slump partly on “transitory factors” and reiterated their belief that growth will pick up to a “moderate pace.”

“They were straightforward in acknowledging the weakness in the first quarter but avoided suggesting that ruled out interest-rate increases going forward,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.