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Fed’s Rate Decisions Hang on Dollar, Growth Concerns

Wall Street Journal (04/22/15) Jon Hilsenrath

The strong U.S. dollar and an unsteady global economy are emerging as primary concerns for U.S. Federal Reserve officials as they prepare for a policy meeting next week to consider the timing of the first interest-rate increase since before the financial crisis. The Fed already has said it is unlikely to raise rates next week, and officials have signaled a rate increase in June has become less likely because the economy slowed in the first quarter.

As they discuss the outlook beyond midyear, officials are increasingly weighing how much the strong dollar might have hurt the prospects of achieving their economic forecast of annual growth of around 2.5%, gradual increases in inflation, and continued declines in unemployment. Fed officials have said they won’t raise rates until they’re confident inflation is on track to rise toward their 2% target, and they want to see that the job market keeps improving.