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article imageFed interest rate hike will have only modest effect on consumers

By Ken Hanly     Jun 17, 2017 in Business
Washington - The US Federal Reserve increased short-term interest rates by a quarter point on Wednesday to an upper limit of 1.25 percent. The increase will have a quite modest impact on consumer's borrowing costs.
The increase was widely expected. If the Feds continue to keep raising rates it would be wise for consumers to adjust now for any effect such moves might have later on. Increased rates get passed on to consumers who borrows causing higher rates for all types of loans including on credit car balances and car loans.
If you are planning on getting a new mortgage or if your present mortgage is variable rate, there could be an increase in the amount you pay. It might be wise to move from a variable rate mortgage to a fixed rate. Since rates are likely to continue to rise it might be wise to take out a mortgage now rather than wait for another increase.
As credit card rates could rise, it might be a good idea to try and pay down credit card debt. If you have a student loan with variable rates you could refinance the loan at a fixed rate. However, a recent report showed over half of students who requested refinancing were turned down.
Car loan costs will rise if Federal rates continue to go up. However, at a certain point the costs of borrowing will result in unsold cars and higher inventories that could reduce prices.
While banks may raise rates on borrowing they may be slow in raising the interest they pay on accounts. They may rather keep interest rates on deposits low to boost their own bottom line. The rate now is an abysmal average of 0.11 percent the same as a year ago. You could improve the rate by transferring money you do not require to a certificate of deposit but the money would be locked in for the time of the deposit.
This is the fourth interest rate hike by the Feds in the last 18 months. The increased rates may encourage foreign investors to invest more in the country as the return is greater. The Feds foresee one more hike this year if the economy remains on a solid footing.
While the individual increases may not seem like much the cumulative effect of the four recent changes since 2015 can add up. For example, someone with a $5,000 credit car balance who makes a minimum payment each month will find the interest increase added $700 in payments over the life of the loan according to Greg McBride, an analyst at On the other hand so far home and auto loan rates have barely moved since December 2015.
The Feds believe that the inflation rate will fall below the target 2 percent rate this year. The Feds now think that US GDP growth will be 2.2 percent rather than the 2.1 forecast in March. Unemployment is expected to be at a low 4.3 percent down from the March prediction of 4.5 percent. There is also a prediction of 1.6 percent rise in personal consumption expenditures, but this is down from 1.6 in March. Core inflation, excluding food and energy, is down from 1.9 percent to 1.7 percent.
More about US Federal Reserve, US interest rates, US inflation
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