Fed signals rate hike may finally be near

Strong jobs report suggests December rate hike
Strong jobs report suggests December rate hike

The Federal Reserve is worried about finally raising rates -- worried that if it doesn't do so soon, it could spark "uncertainty" in financial markets.

The fear is that investors will view a delay as a sign that the Fed lacks confidence in the U.S. economy. Pushing back the first rate hike further could hurt the Fed's credibility.

Those are takeaways from minutes of the Fed's October 27-28 meeting released Wednesday.

"One concern was that such a delay ... could increase uncertainty in financial markets," the Fed's main policy-making committee said.

"A decision to defer [a rate hike] could be interpreted as signaling lack of confidence in the strength of the U.S. economy or erode the Committee's credibility."

Related: Fed to America: Prepare for higher interest rates

Market volatility is often a result of uncertainty and can hurt the U.S. economy -- the last thing the Fed wants to do.

The Fed put rates near zero in December 2008 to help the economy, which was then grappling with a severe recession and housing crisis.

Rates haven't budged since, and many experts say the U.S. economy is healthy enough for interest rates to be slowly nudged higher.

There are signs the Fed may finally be ready to act when it meets next, on December 15-16.

The Fed last month toned down its concerns over the impact of the global economic slowdown on the U.S. economy. And the October jobs report was strong.

Some members of the Fed's policy committee are confident it's time to raise rates.

"Most participants anticipated that ... these conditions [to raise rates] could well be met by the time of the next meeting," Fed said in its minutes.

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