It's (almost) official: The Fed is raising rates next week

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen prepares to speak before a Senate Banking Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the “Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress” on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S

What can we learn from it?

A series of previously scheduled speeches by Fed officials, as well at least two television interviews without prepared remarks, gave the Federal Reserve the platform it needed to alert markets before the traditional "black out" period went into effect ahead of the March 14-15 meeting. By the time of Yellen's speech on Friday, five other policymakers had also flagged a March rate hike.

The precious metal has fallen in five out of the last six sessions as expectations for the Federal Reserve to push ahead with a US rate increase this month ramped up.

"On the whole, the prospects for further moderate economic growth look encouraging, particularly as risks emanating from overseas appear to have receded somewhat".

"We didn't clearly see how the balance of risks was shifting, so they have to slap our faces, and say, "Look, you are missing the point", said Tim Duy, an economics professor at the University of Oregon.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg's World Interest Rate Probability reflected a 100% probability of a hike next week. Yellen pointed out that the Fed's employment goal has largely been met, while inflation has been rising toward the target.

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However, expectations began to rise as several Fed officials, including Chair Janet Yellen, spoke out in support of raising interest rates sooner rather than later.

"Given how close we are to meeting our statutory goals, and in the absence of new developments that might materially worsen the economic outlook, the process of scaling back accommodation likely will not be as slow as it was in 2015 and 2016".

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell 6/32 in price to yield 2.5142 percent, while the 30-year yield was up almost 2 basis point at 3.116 percent after touching its highest level since February 3, Reuters data showed. Higher interest rates should be negative for the gold market.

The market is taking in stride, unlike past years, expectations the Fed will raise rates, said Rahul Shah, chief executive of Ideal Asset Management in NY. However, a lot depends on the message associated with the move.

"There is no appetite for buying for gold ahead of a FOMC rate hike".

Jackson: With consumer confidence at its highest, a rebound in inflation, and a strong labor market, this combines for a recipe for a hawkish 2017 for the Fed.

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