Fed guessing game moves up a gear as Yellen takes stage
By Sarah White
MADRID (Reuters) - Will they or won't they? The debate over whether the U.S. Federal Reserve is readying an interest rate hike will get its umpteenth airing over the coming week, with all eyes on Chair Janet Yellen to provide some clarity.
Amid conflicting signals from the Fed in recent days, central bankers from around the world will gather from Aug. 25 for an annual meeting in the mountains of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with Yellen due to speak the following day.
A recent batch of strong U.S. employment readings have yielded upbeat views from some Fed policymakers suggesting rates could rise as soon as September, though mixed messages from the bank's latest meeting have clouded the outlook.
Minutes from the July 26-27 policy meeting showed rate setters were split over the necessity of tightening policy soon, with some arguing that more economic data was needed, including on the pace of hiring, before envisaging a hike.
Yellen is likely to cement expectations for a slow pace of rate increases.
"Yellen could provide her current assessment of the outlook for job growth, inflation and economic growth, and indicate whether caution is still appropriate or whether a rate hike might be on the horizon," economists at HSBC said in a note.
The Fed raised interest rates in December for the first time in almost a decade, but has since kept them on hold amid signs of faltering growth in the world economy and subdued U.S. inflation.
Uncertainty over its position now has knocked the U.S. dollar, leaving it close to eight-week lows against the euro. Continued...