Fed Day Is Today. Powell’s Tone Will Say It All.

The Federal Reserve is on track to slow the pace of monetary-policy tightening on Wednesday by raising interest rates by a modest quarter of a percentage point, its smallest increase in nearly a year. But don’t mistake the central bank’s downshift for a dovish pivot.

With a 25-basis-point interest-rate hike all but locked in (a basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point), the biggest news on Wednesday will come not from the Fed’s policy moves but the statement and press conference that will follow its two-day policy meeting. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has been emphasizing for months that the future pace of tightening is less important than how high interest rates ultimately rise, and investors and economists will be parsing his words for clues as to where the federal-funds rate might ultimately land.