Experts weigh more rate hikes

Experts weigh more rate hikes

January 28th, 2018 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region
For more articles about personal finance see the 2018 Your Money Guide page

The uptick in U.S. interest rates, with more moves from the Federal Reserve expected this year, has the attention of a pair of Chattanooga financial experts.

Jim Campbell, managing partner of Campbell Rooks Wealth Management, said three interest rate hikes are projected this year by the Fed, though those aren't necessarily locked in.

"Every year what they say and do typically is different," he said.

Tom Francescon, who oversees business development and client relations for Stone Bridge Asset Management, said he expects to see interest rates continue to edge up without much of a negative impact on the economy at this point.

"We feel good about the short term — first and second quarter. Beyond that, it's hard to know," he said.

Low interest rates, one of the main drivers for the rise in the stock market, make borrowing easier for companies and people.

Investors have prepared for a gradual uptick in bond yields because the Federal Reserve is slowly raising short-term rates and is pulling back from the bond purchases it made to aid the economy. Low rates make bonds less attractive investments, which in turn pushes investors from bonds into stocks.

Campbell said he likes investment grade floating-rate securities. He said that those are set to LIBOR, which stands for London Interbank Offered Rate and is the most common of benchmark interest rate indexes used to make changes to adjustable rate mortgages.

"It can go up as interest rates go up," he said about the securities. If there's a demand for floating rate securities, those go even higher, Campbell said.

Francescon said that when it comes to equities, he expects those to move forward for the short term though he foresees a correction at some point.

"People use the term cautiously optimistic," he said. "I'm optimistic about the economy and the market but mindful that we've been in the run for nine to 10 years."

When it comes to interest rates, Campbell said there's "a real division" within the Fed, something which he hasn't seen in his professional lifetime.

"There are hawks and doves as far as how aggressive the Fed should be in raising interest rates," he said.

The Fed raised rates a quarter percent last December, which was the third rate hike of 2017.


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