Janet Yellen
Janet Yellen

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said an interest-rate hike could come “relatively soon” on Thursday, according to MarketWatch staffer Steve Goldstein, as many analysts believe a hike could come in December.

Yellen said progress in the labor market has continued and that economic activity has picked up from the modest pace seen in the first half of this year, while inflation has increased somewhat but remains below the central bank’s 2% objective.

Yellen added the central bank continues to expect that the evolution of the economy “will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate over time to achieve and maintain maximum employment and price stability.”

“Yellen’s prepared remarks followed by strong economic data for October (including the earlier released data on strong retail sales in October and September supported by strong sales gains just reported by Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy) all but guarantee a December funds rate hike by the FOMC,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist of PNC.

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