Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen met with U.S. Congress members Wednesday and spelled out the Fed's intentions to tentatively move forward with gradual rate hikes in 2016, economic conditions permitting.
The Fed made its first move to raise rates in nearly a decade in December 2015 after years of anticipation. It was only a slight raise of a quarter of a percent, which Fed officials have said would continue to be the plan for future rate hikes. However, a turbulent stock market and global economic environment have raised concerns over whether additional rate increases would be wise.
Stocks still suffering
As oil prices have continued to fall to under $30 per barrel, the Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq composite index have struggled mightily, with investors shaky on GDP growth and slow inflation. The indices ended Wednesday split, with the Dow down 100 points and Nasdaq up 0.4% after Yellen's remarks to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.
It is important to understand that Fed officials will only make adjustments to the central bank's interest rate - which mortgage rate trends are loosely modeled after - after careful consideration of the state of the economy. If stocks continue to tank, unemployment rates change for the worse and wages stagnate, expect a long period of waiting before the Fed hikes rates again.