US NFIB small-business confidence index edges higher for February

The US NFIB small-business confidence index edged higher to 105.9 for February from 105.8 previously while there was a stronger than expected reading for producer prices with a 0.6% monthly gain.

 

In her prepared comments to the Senate Banking Committee, Fed Chair Yellen reiterated that it was dangerous to wait too long before raising interest rates given the risk that disruptive interest rates could then be required which could push the economy into recession.

 

According to Yellen, the FOMC expects the labour market to strengthen further with inflation rising gradually towards 2%.

 

Overall, she expected further gradual interest rates to be warranted and that the committee will evaluate whether further adjustment of the Fed Funds rate is needed at forthcoming meetings.

 

The comments were seen as relatively hawkish with no move to rule out a March hike with Yellen stating that all meetings are live.

 

Futures markets moved to price in around a 35% chance of three rate hikes for 2017 from just below 30% ahead of the testimony.

 

The dollar gained ground with the Euro dipping to five-week lows in the 1.0570 area and the US currency held firm on Wednesday.