Yellen tone suggests choppiness for markets ahead

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BY RYAN VLASTELICA

U.S. stock investors have been enjoying an extended period of low volatility and steady gains, but with the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year and major indexes near records, the market could get a bit choppier in coming weeks.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday said she expected the U.S. central bank to raise rates in 2015, though the process was expected to be gradual, with the timing of the first hike dependent on the strength of economic data.

Yellen’s comments kept the likelihood of a September rate increase high. Currently, most economists expect lift-off in September, though dealers are not especially convinced of it. Market indicators put the first increase closer to the end of the year.

Recent data has been mixed. Some weak reports have pushed back the expected lift-off, but Yellen’s words suggest the Fed is still headed to rate increases later this year.

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