Federal Reserve officials will decide this week whether to make a critical change to their policy statement that would widen the door for interest rate hikes next year and effectively bet the United States will continue to shine in a gloomy global economy.
In one of the last major wild cards for financial markets in 2014, the U.S. central bank’s policy-setting committee is to issue the statement and fresh economic forecasts on Wednesday at 2 p.m., following a two-day meeting. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will then hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m.
The U.S. economy has strengthened and jobs have been created at a faster-than-expected clip since the Fed’s last meeting in October, when it repeated that benchmark rates were unlikely to rise for a “considerable time.” Officials will have to decide whether to replace that phrase despite below-target U.S. inflation and economic weakness in Europe and Asia.
Top Fed officials have suggested mid-2015 is a reasonable time to start tightening monetary policy after six years of near-zero rates, and financial markets generally agree.
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