The Federal Reserve announces its rate hike decision on Wednesday. TheStreet TV spoke to three experts who agreed the Fed won't pull the trigger this time around.
"We think in front of the elections that the Fed is going to stay on hold," said Mary Ann Bartels, chief investment officer or portfolio solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "They have enough data if they want to support a rate hike, but they haven't prepared the market for a rate hike and the one thing we believe that Janet Yellen wants to do is to surprise the market."
The economic data have been encouraging, with job growth averaging 232,000 monthly positions over the past three months and the core consumer price index rising 2.3% year over year as of August. The Fed's inflation target is 2%, though the Fed's preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditure price index (PCE), hasn't topped 2%.
Bartels expects the central bank to raise interest rates in December, should the economic data continue to improve.
Brett Ewing, chief market strategist at First Franklin Financial Services also expects the Fed to hold off on hiking rates Wednesday. "December is your first go," he said, adding that he doesn't think the Fed will raise rates at its Nov. 1-2 meeting, which is just days before the presidential election. Ewing said not all of the economic data has been strong and pointed to declines in PCE and gross domestic product as worrisome signals about the economy.
"We've never actually seen the Fed raise rates when the market's expectations are this low,' said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, referring to the fact that investors are only pricing in a 15% chance of a 25 basis point rate hike in September. He said Yellen's Fed doesn't like to shock the markets.
McMillan said the increases in the consumer price index were largely fueled by medical inflation. McMillan agreed the Fed is concerned about the stock market, in addition to its dual mandate of price stability and full employment.
"They have made an effort to consider financial stability," McMillan said.
The S&P 500 is currently trading at roughly 2,150, roughly 1.8% from its all-time high of 2,190 reached on Aug. 15.
See full coverage and analysis of the Federal Reserve's decisions on interest rates.