Janet Yellen signaled Friday that the Fed will likely resume raising interest rates later this month to reflect a strengthening job market and inflation edging toward the central bank's 2% target rate, the AP reports. The Federal Reserve chair also said that the Fed expects steady economic improvement to justify additional rate increases. While not specifying how many rate hikes could occur this year, Yellen noted that Fed officials in December had estimated that there would be three in 2017. The Fed will next meet March 14. At that meeting, Yellen said the policymakers will "evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with our expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate."
Yellen's signal of a likely rate hike this month reflects an encouraging conclusion by the Fed: That nearly eight years after the Great Recession ended, the US economy has finally regained most of its health. Still, a rate increase this month isn't necessarily a certainty. Any unexpected wave of poor economic news or worrisome global developments could give the Fed pause. The government's jobs report for February, to be issued next Friday, will be of particular interest. But the most recent data—notably on job growth, manufacturing, and consumer confidence—along with surging stock prices have been broadly encouraging.