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What it means if Fed no longer says it’s ‘patient’ on rates

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What it means if Fed no longer says it’s ‘patient’ on rates

AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the Federal Reserve, patience may no longer be a virtue.

Surrounding the Fed’s policy meeting this week is the widespread expectation that it will no longer use the word “patient” to describe its stance on raising interest rates from record lows.

The big question is: What will that mean?

Many economists say the dropping of “patience” would signal that the Fed plans to start raising rates in June to reflect a steadily strengthening U.S. job market. Others foresee no rate hike before September. And a few predict no increase before year’s end at the earliest.

Complicating the decision is a surging U.S. dollar, which is keeping inflation far below the Fed’s target rate and posing a threat to U.S. corporate profits and possibly to the economy. A rate increase could send the dollar even higher.

In a statement it will issue when its meeting ends Wednesday and in a news conference Chair Janet Yellen will hold afterward, the Fed isn’t likely to telegraph its timetable. Yellen has said that any decision to raise rates will reflect the latest economic data and that the Fed must remain flexible.

Still, nervous investors have been selling stocks out of concern that a rate increase – which could slow borrowing and spending and weigh on the economy – is coming soon.