The Fed has stuck to its nebulous language, saying short-term interest rates, which have remained near zero for six years, will stay low for a "considerable time" after its quantitative easing program ended in October.
While the stock market has been propped up artificially by years of low rates and central bank intervention, the markets shouldn't get too bent out of shape because a rate hike means the economy is strong enough to stand on its own two feet.
"I do think they will remove the considerable time from the language, although it's not a guarantee," said Brian Rehlig, chief fixed income strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors (WFC) in an interview with TheStreet. "But that also doesn't signal rate increases are imminent, as it's been expected for some time and I think the markets are well prepared."
Investors worry higher interest rates make stocks less attractive, as yields on alternative asset classes, like bonds and money market funds, will edge higher upon a jump in the federal funds rate.
Still, a rate increase would be phased out to avoid shocking the financial system. Wells Fargo Advisors says rates will reach 75 basis points by the end of 2015.
"The first increase will be middle to late next year moving us to 0.5%, and then after a few meetings another increase to 0.75% by the end of next year," he added. "Rates will still remain well below normal levels and that should still prop up stocks."
-- Written by Scott Gamm in New York.