Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Friday that the case for raising interest rates has strengthened in light of a solid job market and an improved outlook for the U.S. economy and inflation. But she stopped short of offering any timetable.
Federal Reserve officials believed last month that near-term risks to the U.S. economy had subsided and that an interest rate increase could soon be warranted. But they did not indicate when they would likely raise rates.
Anyone trying to peg the likelihood of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike this year has been subject to a topsy-turvy shift of expert opinion the past few months. And when the Fed holds its latest policy meeting this week, few think it will provide much more clarity.
The Federal Reserve has given the green light to major banks in the U.S. to raise dividends and buy back shares, judging them to have a sturdy enough financial foundation to withstand a major economic downturn.