Will interest rates go up or down? The Federal Reserve Board's anxiously awaited decision is set to be announced 2 p.m. Thursday. Janet L. Yellen, chairwoman of the Fed is scheduled to speak to the press at 2:30 p.m. EDT to explain the bank's decision. Stay on top of the decision by watching a live stream here.
Watch the press conference below:
If the Fed raises interest rates -- some who closely watch the Fed expect it to do so, while many traders do not -- it will be the first time since 2006 that the body has decided to hike rates. Key factors in the decision include matters of inflation and employment, as well as the overall stability of the financial market.
The impact of a hike in interest rates that -- percentage-wise -- may seem miniscule can ripple through the domestic and global economy. It affects personal investments and spending as well as job creation and large-scale investing in a variety of ways that can be positive or negative, depending on one's vantage point.
When interest rates are higher, it costs more to borrow money, meaning that the cost of mortgages, student loans and other forms of debt would rise. The federal interest rate also directly impacts prices for real estate, meaning that the everyday consumer might benefit. Higher interest rates also mean a strengthening of the dollar against foreign currencies, which can hurt exports but make international travel cheaper.
Despite concerns about an economic recession following a rate hike, it takes time for the impact of such an increase to fully play out in the financial world, and it's not always as dramatic as many fear, experts note. Either way, just about everyone is trying to predict how the announcement itself will affect everything from commodities and stocks to home sales and job prospects.