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Much Ado About Nothing

The Federal Reserve opted to keep the current federal funds rate as-is today at its Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The vote was unanimous among the Fed’s Board of Governors and will keep the rate between 1 and 1.25 percent.

The Committee cited potential labor and economic growth as the driving factors behind the decision.

“In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1 to 1.25 percent,” the Committee’s statement read. “The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation.”

The FOMC voted to increase the rate twice earlier this year. The rate rose 25 basis points in March and another 25 basis points again in June. Most experts expected the Fed to stay the course at today’s meeting but believe it will raise rates a third time later this year.

The Fed all but agreed in its statement today, saying that it “expects that economic conditions will evolve in a matter that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate.” Still, the statement read, “the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.”

“In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation,” the statement read. “This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. The Committee will carefully monitor actual and expected inflation developments relative to its symmetric inflation goal. The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data."

And although the Fed continues to stand behind the position it's held since June, the big question after today's nonaction is whether or not another rate hike will come before year's end. Brett Ewing, Chief Market Strategist at First Franklin is skeptical.

"The weak dollar continues to put the Fed in a goldilocks environment where the market isn’t concerning itself with rates," he says. "And we don’t think there will be a rate hike until 2018; that’s the most likely scenario. Although December 2017 is in play, but still is less than 50 percent chance."

The FOMC will meet next on September 19; the meeting will be accompanied with a press conference.

About Author: Aly J. Yale

Aly J. Yale is a longtime writer and editor from Texas. Her resume boasts positions with The Dallas Morning News, NBC, PBS, and various other regional and national publications. She has also worked with both the Five Star Institute and REO Red Book, as well as various other mortgage industry clients on content strategy, blogging, marketing, and more.

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