U.S. stock investors have been enjoying an extended period of low volatility and steady gains, but with the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year and major indexes near records, the market could get a bit choppier in coming weeks. Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday said she expected the U.S. central bank to raise rates in 2015, though the process was expected to be gradual, with the timing of the first hike dependent on the strength of economic data. Some weak reports have pushed back the expected lift-off, but Yellen's words suggest the Fed is still headed to rate increases later this year.
By Jonathan Spicer and Michael Flaherty PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was clearer than ever on Friday that the central bank was poised to raise interest rates this year, as the U.S. economy was set to bounce back from an early-year slump and as headwinds at home and abroad waned. Yellen spoke amid growing concern at the Fed about volatility in financial markets once it begins to raise rates, and a desire to begin coaxing skeptical investors toward accepting the inevitable: that a 6-1/2-year stretch of near-zero interest rates would soon end. In a speech to a business group in Providence, Rhode Island, Yellen said she expected the world's largest economy to strengthen after a slowdown due to "transitory factors" in recent months, and noted that some of the weakness might be due to "statistical noise." The confident tone suggested the Fed wants to set the stage as early as possible for its first rate rise in nearly a decade, with Yellen stressing that monetary policy must get out ahead of an economy whose future looks bright.
By William Schomberg LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England plans to assess the implications of a possible British exit from the European Union, it said in a statement, confirming an email it inadvertently sent to a newspaper about the supposedly confidential research project. The Guardian reported that an aide to a senior Bank official said in the email the project should be kept secret from most BoE staff and any journalists asking about it should be told the Bank was looking at a broad range of European economic issues. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was re-elected on May 7, has pledged to reshape Britain's ties with the EU before holding an in-out membership referendum by the end of 2017.