Fed Minutes: Modest Rate Hike May Be Just Around The Corner

The Federal Reserve would like investors to beware the Ides of March, but so far investors are taking the warning about as seriously as Caesar did.

Minutes from the 31 January meeting, which saw the bank American central bank keep rates unchanged, also reflected uncertainty, with some attendees raising concerns that it may be "some time" before the outlook becomes clearer.

"I don't see anything in the minutes that changed that narrative", Todd said.

The US central bank has been guiding investors to expect gradual interest rate increases in light of the moderately improving economy, and analysts see some increase in chances for the next hike March 15. The FOMC meets again in March.

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It comes after Fed chair Janet Yellen warned it would be "unwise" to wait too long before hiking interest rates. However, consumer spending for energy services declined markedly, reflecting unseasonably warm weather.

A few participants "noted that continuing to remove policy accommodation in a timely manner, potentially at an upcoming meeting, would allow the committee greater flexibility in responding to subsequent changes in economic conditions".

Economic growth is expected to improve in the first quarter of the year to more than a 2% annual rate, up from 1.9% in the fourth quarter of last year.

The minutes indicated their forecasts were little changed since the end of a year ago, and in their discussion of risks and uncertainties, they said "some time would likely be required for the outlook to become clearer".

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At 1050 GMT, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were flat, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 0.1%.

"I'd say that palldium prices and sentiment should come under pressure once we get more evidence that China is indeed weaker". But some also perceived risks of slower growth from some of Trump's proposals, presumably restrictions on trade.

Spot gold was steady at $1,236 per ounce at 0336 GMT, while USA gold futures eased 0.2 percent to $1,237.

Committee members said they expect to continue reinvesting until normalization of short-term interest rates is well under way.

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