Dec. fed funds rate increase now more likely

November 5, 2015

WASHINGTON (11/5/15)--A benchmark interest rate hike could come as early as December, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee Wednesday.

During her semiannual testimony before the committee, Yellen said the economy has been performing well of late.

“Now no decision has been made on that and, what it will depend on is the [Federal Open Market Committee] assessment at the time. That assessment will be informed by all of the data that we collect between now and then," Yellen said, adding that if the Fed receives information that supports the expectation of growth, “December would be a live possibility.”

The Federal Reserve's monetary policy-making body next meeting is Dec. 15-16.

“So long as the next two monthly jobs reports are reasonably solid, the Fed chair’s statement means a December fed funds rate increase to 25 basis points is now very likely,” said CUNA Chief Policy Officer Bill Hampel.

Yellen’s statement also confirmed what CUNA’s economists have been saying for some time: Once the Fed starts raising rates, the pace of increases will be gradual. “We expect 25 basis point increases every other meeting next year,” said Hampel.

(See related story: Fed chair backs reg. relief for small FIs.)