Fed chair Yellen: US rate increase 'likely' later this year

Yellen said improvements in the US economy “will likely entail an initial increase in the federal funds rate later this year.”
Yellen said improvements in the US economy “will likely entail an initial increase in the federal funds rate later this year.” REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen said Thursday that she still expects to increase interest rates in 2015 and that concerns about weaker global growth likely will not affect that plan.

Yellen said improvements in the US economy "will likely entail an initial increase in the federal funds rate later this year."

Policymakers will continue to monitor weaker activity overseas, she said, but the impact will probably not be "large enough to have a significant effect on the path for policy," she said in a speech at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Yellen's remarks came a week after the US central bank opted at a widely anticipated meeting against enacting the first rate hike since the financial crisis of 2008.

Following the Sept 17 meeting, Yellen told a press conference that the committee decided to hold off due to worries about slowing growth in China and capital flight from emerging markets.

But in Thursday's speech, Yellen said policymakers were still "monitoring developments abroad" but did not think they would derail the US economy.

"Prospects for the US economy generally appear solid," said Yellen, citing monthly job gains averaging round 210,000 and other data showing the economy has been expanding.

"My colleagues and I, based on our most recent forecasts, anticipate that this pattern will continue and that labor market conditions will improve further as we head into 2016."