Will a quarter point increase in US Fed rates impact India?

Saturday, 24 Mar, 2018

"Several factors are supporting the outlook: Fiscal policy has become more stimulative; ongoing job gains are boosting incomes and confidence; foreign growth is on a firm trajectory; and overall financial conditions remain accommodating".

The Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate Wednesday in a vote of confidence in the US economy's durability while signaling that it plans to continue a gradual approach to rate hikes for 2018 under its new chairman, Jerome Powell. Normalisation of interest rates from ultra-low accommodative values means that the Fed would have the option of lowering rates to boost the economy. But the central bank opened the door to potentially doing four hikes. The U.S. economy is on track to expand 2.7 percent this year and 2.4 percent in 2019, Fed officials now say, a jump from their previous projection done before the Republican tax cuts were finalized.

If the Fed keeps raising its long-run target for its benchmark interest rate, it would nearly certainly mean the central bank plans to raise rates more aggressively. The Fed tightened policy three times past year.

February 2018 brought a national unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, a 17-year floor, making the streak continue for its fifth consecutive month.

Decision: Fed funds rate target range increased to 1.50% to 1.75%.

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In his first press conference as new chairman, Jerome Powell said the Fed is trying to stake out the "middle ground: Raising rates enough to keep inflation at bay without causing harm to the economy". Now, as the Fed and other global central banks move towards normalising monetary policy, the impact on the wider credit markets is slowly beginning to show. Market watchers are concerned that this could lead to tit-for-tat responses from other nations, and hurt global economic growth. China said it was prepared to defend its interests as the administration of President Donald Trump prepared to announce tariffs on imports from China.

Jitipol Puksamatanan, a strategist of Krungthai Bank, said that the baht's rise to 31.16 to the U.S. dollar, after the market opening, contrasted with its mark of 31.22 at the close of the previous day's trading. But by the time stock trading had ended, the Dow Jones industrial average was down modestly, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for mortgages and other loans, was up only slightly to 2.88. The median estimate of the GDP growth for 2020 is also unchanged and remains 2%.

Seoul shares hit seven-week closing high after crude oil prices surged and the Fed policy statement turned out to be less hawkish than expected. In December, it raised this rate to between 1.25% and 1.5%.

US gold futures for April delivery rose 0.7 percent to $1,331 per ounce. The fed funds rate, for example, topped out at 5.25% at the height of the last economic expansion from 2001 to 2007.

There was no indication of the size and scope of the tariffs, which U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday would target China's high-technology sector and could also include restrictions on Chinese investments in the United States. Wage growth appears to be improving, but the signs are mixed.