CHINA—Asian stocks and emerging market currencies rallied Thursday after minutes from the Federal Reserve showed growing confidence in the US economy, ramping up the chances of a December interest rate hike.
“Most participants” at the US central bank’s October policy expected conditions to be right by their next meeting, having broadly dropped their worries about the global economy and recent market turmoil, the minutes said.
Fed chief Janet Yellen had said earlier in the year she expected an increase by 2016 but a hike was put off several times during the summer as world markets were hammered by worries about China and the global outlook.
But a string of figures out of Washington recently—particularly on jobs growth and price rises—coupled with an uptick on equities markets, has reignited confidence at the Fed to lift rates for the first time in nine years.
Also, a number of Fed policymakers were concerned that, having built up expectations of a hike for so long, not moving would send a disturbing message and erode the bank’s credibility.
Delaying a rise “could increase uncertainty in financial markets and unduly magnify the perceived importance of the beginning of the policy normalization process,” the minutes said.
Worries about a hike have also been tempered by previous comments from the bank that any increase would be gradual.
“The pace of the rise is what’s much more important than the rate rise itself,” Angus Gluskie, a managing director at White Funds Management in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.