Fed rate hikes might give Wall Street an unpleasant surprise

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Michelle Meyer believes it will be hard for the Fed to deliver the "dovish hike" that the central bank would prefer to do: tightening rates to keep a lid on inflation and asset price gains, but not spooking the market.

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Market strategists said investors should look for a view on the debt ceiling and how the central bank intends to juggle their plans for balance sheet reduction with its hikes to the Fed-funds rate.

However, there are several other reasons why market participants are eager to study the Fed's statements that are scheduled to be released later today.

They increased their projections for economic growth this year to 2.2 percent from the 2.1 percent they forecast in March.

The median estimate of the long-run neutral rate, which is seen as the level of monetary policy that neither boosts nor slows the economy, was unchanged at 3.0 per cent. Inflation was expected to be at 1.7 per cent by the end of this year, down from the 1.9 per cent previously forecast.

Pay attention home buyers, vehicle drivers and credit card debtors: The Federal Reserve could raise rates on Wednesday.

Though the economy is growing only sluggishly and though inflation remains chronically below the Fed's 2 percent target, it foresees improvement in both measures over time.

The decision on rates from the Federal Open Market Committee - the Federal Reserve's policy-making arm - is expected at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The currency pair will be in focus later Wednesday with the Fed's policy decision.

Fed officials are wrapping up their two-day June meeting.

However, investors are wary that the incremental rate hikes could be put on hold, and so will be interested in the mood at the news conference.

As a result, USA gold futures took a bit of a hit, and as of 3:55 PM EST, prices were down 0.73% to $1,259.30 an ounce.

That said, no one expects the Fed's rate hikes to turn aggressive.

European stocks gained ground Wednesday, with tech shares still clawing back losses logged earlier in the week, as investors waited for confirmation from the Federal Reserve that the USA economy is strong enough for another interest-rate rise. S&P 500 futures added 0.1 percent. It is the world's largest holder of USA government debt, raising fears that as it steps back from the market yields could shoot higher - though that has not yet happened.

The FTSE 100 was up 0.1% at 7,507.67 after opening in the red.

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7 percent to 3,130.67 and Tokyo's Nikkei 225 retreated 0.1 percent to 19,883.52.

The job market — with unemployment at a 16-year low of 4.3 percent — has improved to such an extent that the Fed is thought to feel it's time to modestly raise its benchmark rate again.

The pound on Friday tumbled to a seven-week low at $1.2636 in the wake of Thursday's election result that saw the ruling Conservatives lose their majority, days before the start of crucial talks on leaving the EU.