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Fed expected to keep interest rates steady as Yellen era ends

01 February 2018

- The Federal Open Market Committee concluded its two-day meeting, the last with Janet Yellen as chair, on January 31.

Yellen's four-year tenure has been defined by her campaign to stimulate job and wage growth by holding interest rates at low levels for much longer than markets had expected.

"The markets have turned around", said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.1 percent to 7,411.48.

He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. Equities should eke out further gains in the course of the year. Heading into this Friday's data release, current expectations for the data are modest, with the unemployment rate expected to hold at 4.1%, and the headline jobs figure to come in at +180K. Typically, it's around two-thirds.

Stock markets have roared ahead under Yellen, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by more than 70% during her four years in charge. Additionally, other leadership changes at the Fed has analysts anticipating a more hawkish view of inflation.

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Because the Fed has raised rates only gradually over the past two years to avoid slowing the economy, its key rate remains in a still-low range 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.

The Fed also repeated that it expected "further gradual" rate hikes were warranted. "And that's led to higher long-term rates and, as a result, stocks have moved down today".

The unemployment rate is just 4.1 percent, and the economy expanded at a solid 2.6 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter, helping lift growth for all of 2017 to a decent 2.3 percent.

Some companies' quarterly report cards failed to impress traders.

Among the S&P 500's 11 major sectors, technology.SPLRCT gave the biggest boost to the index. Bond yields move in the opposite direction to prices. The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was up 2.1 basis points at 2.747 per cent, continuing its recent trajectory higher.

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Synchronized growth in major regions across the world has helped energize the us economy. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments.

The Japanese yen gained 0.3 percent to 108.65 per dollar. The euro strengthened to $1.2420 from $1.2411. Silver added 18 cents to $17.24 an ounce.

Oil prices reversed an early slide.

The kiwi traded at 73.42 United States cents as at 8:30am in Wellington from 73.53 cents in NY on Friday.

West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.9 percent to $64.97 a barrel on the largest fall in more than a week.

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The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped 0.7 percent. A decent re-pricing for a modest miss, and it's no surprise therefore to see the ASX 200 stage a reasonable relief rally.

Fed expected to keep interest rates steady as Yellen era ends