The case for an interest-rate hike has strengthened in the last few months, according to US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Yellen is speaking at the annual Jackson Hole symposium, with the speech being called her most important of the year.
“In light of the continued solid performance of the labor market and our outlook for economic activity and inflation, I believe the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months,” Yellen said.
“Of course, our decisions always depend on the degree to which incoming data continues to confirm the Committee’s outlook.”
She noted inflation and employment are approaching the Fed’s goals.
It appears that Yellen is using the symposium as a chance to prep markets for further interest-rate hikes.
In December 2015, the US Fed raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006. Traders are increasingly coming to expect another increase by 25 basis points by or at its December meeting.
The US Fed’s next policy meeting is from September 20-21.
Yellen’s remarks are likely to renew fears of a spike in Singapore’s interest rates, which are closely tied to US interest rates due to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) foreign exchange policy.
The Singapore dollar exchange rate is managed within a policy band against a trade-weighted basket of currencies of Singapore’s major trading partners, which include the United States. Singapore does not have an explicit interest rate policy.
Higher interest rates are likely to have a dampening effect on Singapore’s economy, as more corporate defaults loom. Singapore has one of the highest corporate debt levels in the region.
Singapore’s mortgage rates are also likely to spike, as they are typically tied to SIBOR and SOR rates.
Property owners holding mortgage loans with floating rates will see their monthly mortgage repayments increase as SIBOR/SOR goes up.
However, the impact on property owners will probably stay subdued for now, as the US Fed is unlikely to raise rates too much too quickly.