Here comes the big month of August—and with it many of the remaining clues markets need to decide whether the Fed will actually raise rates in September.
The central bank kept the door open for a September rate hike in its post-meeting statement this week. However, it didn't provide any clarity as to whether it expects to move its fed funds target rate from zero in September, as many economists expect, or whether a December rise is more likely, as the futures markets now forecast.
The Fed also put the onus on economic data, particularly employment-related and inflation reports, as it has repeatedly emphasized its decision will be data-based. But strategists are also keeping an eye on international developments, particularly with regard to China's weakening economy and market meltdown, and to a lesser extent Greece's debt crisis.