What analysts say about Wednesday night's US Federal Reserve meeting

Fed Chair Janet Yellen holds a press conference at the Federal Reserve Board on Dec 17, 2014 in Washington,DC. Since the United States Federal Reserve issued comments on Thursday night about its plans for upcoming monetary policy, analysts and e
Fed Chair Janet Yellen holds a press conference at the Federal Reserve Board on Dec 17, 2014 in Washington,DC. Since the United States Federal Reserve issued comments on Thursday night about its plans for upcoming monetary policy, analysts and economists the world over have been parsing its statement for a sign as to when it will raise interest rates. -- PHOTO: AFP

Since the United States Federal Reserve issued comments on Wednesday night about its plans for upcoming monetary policy, analysts and economists the world over have been parsing its statement for a sign as to when it will raise interest rates.

The Fed's policy arm, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), said it would be "patient" before moving to hike rates, but replaced an earlier pledge to keep borrowing costs near zero for a "considerable time".

Here are a few analysts' take on what it all means for the markets:

United Overseas Bank economist Alvin Liew: After the FOMC meeting, we have not changed our Fed rate normalisation timetable but we do see the possibility of the Fed being increasingly torn between strong jobs data and a potentially steep decline in headline inflation on the back of a plunge in oil prices.

We are still expecting the Fed rate normalisation to take place in the second quarter of 2015 (possibly starting at the June 16 to 17 FOMC meeting).

Admittedly, as the Fed emphasised their monetary policy formulation is data-dependent, there remains significant risk to our projected timeline and trajectory for the FOMC rate normalisation cycle. We still cannot fully rule out a first-quarter rate hike surprise.

Phillip Futures market analyst Howie Lee: The FOMC dropped the term "considerable time" (in maintaining Fed funds rate near zero) and replaced it with "can be patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy". This change alone suggests that they are increasingly keen on raising interest rates.

However, the committee has revised the median projection of end-2015 interest rates downwards from 1.375 per cent to 1.125 per cent.

If you're feeling confused, you're not alone; the FOMC itself is confused. Markets are equally confused: gold fell, thinking that the message is hawkish, but the US dollar and equities rose, both of which must have thought the message from the Fed is dovish.

We now revise our end-2015 interest rates from 1.25 per cent to 1 per cent, and we think the Fed is likely to push back the first rate hike from July to September 2015.

ABN Amro: The committee decided not to mention the difficulties in the global economy and they even mentioned that lower oil prices are seen as transitory, adding that they expect inflation to rise gradually toward its target over time.

During the press conference, US Fed chairman Janet Yellen clarified that this did not mean an earlier hike than the FOMC had previously communicated.

Ms Yellen mentioned that they did not expect a rate hike at least in the next couple of meetings, suggesting that a hike is likely in mid-2015, if inflation moves towards the target.