Janet Yellen Says Fed Could Raise Rates 'in the Coming Months'


Janet Yellen attended a meeting at the Federal Reserve in Washington on May 3. Photo: Shawn Thew/European Pressphoto Agency

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said Friday a rate increase would be appropriate “probably in the coming months” if the economy and labor market continue to strengthen.

During a panel discussion at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Ms. Yellen reiterated that she believes rates should be raised slowly.

“It’s appropriate, and I’ve said this in the past I think, for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase our overnight interest rate over time, and probably in the coming months such a move would be appropriate,” she said.

Ms. Yellen’s comments echoed those of her colleagues on the Fed’s rate-setting committee, several of whom have said in recent days they foresee two or three rate increases this year, with the next increase possible as soon as the Fed’s next meeting June 14-15.

Ms. Yellen didn’t point to a particular meeting, but her comments will give an additional boost to expectations that the Fed is getting closer to another policy move.

Those Before Ms. Yellen’s remarks Friday, traders in futures markets put a 30% probability on an increase at the June meeting, and a 58% probability on an increase by July.

The Fed raised its benchmark federal-funds rate in December to a range between 0.25% and 0.50%, after leaving it near zero for seven years. At the time, officials projected they would raise rates by a full percentage point this year, but officials cut that estimate in half at their March meeting.

Kate Davidson at kate.davidson@wsj.com

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