Fed's Rate-Hike Timing May Move Closer to Goldman Sachs' Recommendation

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Federal Reserve's timing for an interest-rate increase may be moving closer to what Goldman Sachs  (GS) thinks it should be.

The New York-based bank adjusted its rate hike target to December from a previous projection of September following this week's meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, but September was never what Goldman thought would be the right time.

"Our new call moves our forecast for what the FOMC will do closer to our long-standing view of what the FOMC should do, in light of risk management considerations," Jan Hatzius, chief economist of Goldman Sachs, wrote in a report.

To support the bank's September projection, Hatzius' team needed to see the Fed lay groundwork for the move after this week's meeting. Instead, the bank noted several signals that a September liftoff was off the table, and many of the cited concerns were ones Goldman Sachs had addressed previously.

Seven out of seventeen meeting participants anticipated no more than one rate increase in 2015 and said there might be none, for example. That's an increase from March, when only three participants thought there would be no rate hikes this year. Goldman Sachs believes that Fed Chair Janet Yellen is one of the members of the group of seven.

During a press conference following the two-day meeting, Yellen said there was too much focus on the timing of a rate hike instead of the mechanics of one. Recent economic data has not offered sufficient support for a rate hike, Yellen said, calling for "more decisive evidence that a moderate pace of economic growth will be sustained."

An increase this year is still possible, she added: "We could certainly see data that would justify that."

Earlier this month, Goldman's Hatzius also signaled that economic conditions may not be favorable for a hike this year.

"The risk management case for delaying the first hike until 2016 remains persuasive," Hatzius wrote in a note dated June 2. "There is substantial uncertainty around the economic outlook, the equilibrium funds rate, and the true amount of labor market slack."

Goldman Sachs' dovish stance was evident at the beginning of the year as well. In January, as speculation about a June rate hike mounted, Hatzius' team issued a report that hedged its September thesis and cited stagnant wages and softening core inflation as concerns. 

"We continue to expect a later-than-consensus first hike, with September remaining our baseline, but the risks looking increasingly tilted to the later side," Hatzius' team wrote in January.

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