United States stocks end mixed ahead of Fed decision

US rate hike in the cards as Fed holds policy meeting

US rate hike in the cards as Fed holds policy meeting

At 2:00 p.m. ET, the Federal Reserve will release its latest monetary policy decision, which is expected to see the central bank raise the target range for its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points for the third time this year.

The move would mark the bank's eighth rate rise since 2015, continuing its policy of gradual rate rises.

"The labor market has continued to strengthen. economic activity has been rising at a strong rate", the Fed said in a statement that removed its longstanding reference to the fact that monetary policy remained "accommodative".

A hawkish plan could re-ignite the dollar rally, whilst suggestions of a slow down in the pace of hiking or that the Fed is coming to the end of its cycle next year, could bring the dollar tumbling lower. Ahead of Wednesday's statement, traders put the chance of a rate increase at 95 percent, according to CME Group.

"Another quarter of 4 percent real GDP growth coupled with faster wage gains will likely cause policymakers to err on the side of aggressiveness at some point".

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In other words, the labor market is now stronger than what the Fed thinks will be required to sustain 2% inflation and the Fed expects this trend to continue for years.

Risks to the current run of economic growth, such as the threat of a damaging round of global tariffs increases, were largely set aside. US stock markets opened slightly higher on Wednesday, while Treasury yields slipped and the dollar.DXY was a bit stronger against a basket of currencies.

United States gross domestic product grew at an annual pace of more than 4% in the second quarter of this year, and the unemployment rate continues to hover below 4% - near historic lows. In June, the Fed's forecast indicated that two more rate hikes this year were likely with the FOMC split on whether two or three rate hikes would be warranted in 2019.

The Fed's benchmark overnight lending rate is now set in a target range of between 1.75 percent and 2.00 percent.

"In light of the economy's impressive growth momentum, the upward trends in wage and price inflation, and the limited overall tightening in financial conditions achieved so far, on net we think the risks to the funds rate are tilted to the upside", Goldman Sachs economists Jan Hatzius and others wrote in a preview of this week's Fed meeting.

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