US Federal Reserve management expects rate increase in 2018

Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group and Dominic Barton of Mc Kinsey

Economists are expecting four rate hikes this year, compared to three stated by the central bank.

However, "a number of participants expressed uncertainty about the magnitude of the effects of tax reform on consumer spending" as well as on capital spending, it said.

Most participants at the Fed gathering reiterating support for "continuing a gradual approach to raising the target range" for the benchmark policy rate, according to minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's December 12-13 meeting. USA central bankers raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point and penciled in three more hikes for 2018, according to the median estimate.

US stocks climbed to record highs, gold fell and the dollar extended gains as the minutes from the Federal Reserve's December policy meeting showed officials continued to back gradual interest-rate increases.

While the Trump administration believes its economic program of tax cuts and deregulation will boost economic growth in coming years to a sustained rate of 3 percent, the Fed's revised economic projections released last month are far less optimistic.

Stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday, adding to the gains posted in the previous session. "They will continue the same tack".

In late trading, the USA dollar bounced 0.3 per cent to 92.18 after falling 2.5 per cent over the last three weeks. In 2017, the index's best year since 2009, it set scores of record highs and rose by one-fifth in value.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose past 2,700 for the first time, while the Nasdaq Composite index and Dow Jones Industrial Average reached all-time highs.

The minutes covered last month's discussion, which led to the central bank boosting its key policy rate for a third time in 2017, to a new but still-low range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.

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"I think pretty much everyone sort of thinks the Fed is on track to do what it has been saying it is going to do, which is not do anything this month and then raise at their mid-March meeting".

-The S&P 500 index climbed 0.6 percent to close at a record 2,713.07 as of 4:05 p.m.in NY, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 percent to 24,922.68 and the NASDAQ Composite index rose 0.8 percent to 7,065.531.

In Europe, shares closed higher on Wednesday after a rising dollar boosted exporters and Wall Street records lifted optimism as new European market rules took hold. While the UK's FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3%, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both climbed by 0.8%.

-The Japanese yen weakened 0.2 percent to 112.45 per dollar.

-Germany's 10-year yield dropped three basis points to 0.44 percent.

February gold futures lost 0.2 percent to $1,315.30 per troy ounce, while spot gold recovered 0.07 percent to 1,314.16 an ounce.

Oil prices hit fresh two-and-a-half year highs, with a sixth day of unrest in Opec member Iran and strong economic data from the United States and Germany spurring buying.

United States crude rose 2.34 per cent to US$61.78 per barrel and Brent was last at US$67.89, up 1.98 per cent on the day.

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