Economists in the December hike camp cite risks to the Fed's inflation target, including the decline in energy and commodity prices since the committee last met. Fed staff lowered their inflation outlook at the July meeting but said most of the effects from lower energy and import prices were transitory. Fears over weakness in China's economy have also flared since the last meeting.
"Since the meeting the U.S. dollar and energy have moved in the wrong direction," Morgan Stanley said. "The Fed wants to raise rates this year, but we continue to believe it takes a pass in September."
On the far side of the debate over the Fed's timeline, Stifel Chief Economist Lindsey Piegza said the inflation data was reversing course toward the Fed's longer-term target, repeating her call for liftoff in 2016.
"The economy remains substandard and inadequate, unable to justify a near-term rate increase," she said. "No matter how impatient the market or Fed officials are to get 'things going,' it is all about the data, and the data says the economy needs more time to improve further."
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