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March 17, 2021, 12:36 p.m. EDT

Fed faces communication challenge as doubts mount about its easy policy stance: live blog

In wake of vaccine-rollout and $1.9 trillion stimulus, markets think first Fed interest-rate hike is no longer years away

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By Greg Robb, MarketWatch


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Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a pre-pandemic news conference June 13, 2018 in Washington, DC.. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The Federal Reserve will deliver their updated thinking about the economic outlook and monetary policy Wednesday afternoon and MarketWatch reporters are here to bring you the details in live updates.

With the economic outlook improving and growing numbers of Americans receiving COVID vaccinations, investors are going to be closely watching to see if the Fed thinks it could pull back from its ultra-easy monetary policy.

In its December dot plot, the Fed didn’t see a single rate hike until after 2023. With excitement about the economy, investors are starting to price-in a rate hike in 2022.

Long-term interest rates /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y -0.65%  have risen steadily since the last Fed meeting in January and hit a post-pandemic high earlier Wednesday.

The Fed is also buying $120 billion per month of Treasurys and mortgage-related securities. The first signal of a pull-back would be a tapering of these purchases. Fed officials have not given any date for a taper, saying only that they expect the purchases to continue for “some time.”

At 2 p.m. Eastern, the central bank will release a policy statement, updated forecasts for the economy and “dot plot” projections of the path of policy.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a press conference a half-hour later.

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Greg Robb is a senior reporter for MarketWatch in Washington. Follow him on Twitter @grobb2000.

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