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Fed's rate hike calendar will be gradual: Experts

The markets are primed for a rate hike. So about 24 hours from the Fed's decision, the question now becomes, how many rate rises are to come, and how often?

Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at R.W. Baird, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday that he'll be looking for the word "gradual."

"[Fed Chair Janet Yellen] said that the first rate hike is not important, it's what follows that's really important for the markets," he said. "I don't think tomorrow's going be as dramatic as it might have been but I do think the Fed will be very persistent in suggesting that future rate hikes will be slow and measured."

Michelle Meyer, deputy head of U.S. economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday that factors like the minimum wage and inflation could influence the Fed's 2016 rate hike calendar.

"Our view is that wages will be trending higher and that's going to generate some higher inflationary pressure," she said. "I don't think you're going to see a breakout in terms of inflation that's going to prompt the Fed to abruptly adjust interest rates higher. I do think it's going to be slow, but it's important that it's a cycle. It's not a one and done or two and through."



While inflationary pressures could be "troublesome," Bittles agreed with Meyer's view on the Fed's gradual pace.

"I don't think inflation is right around the corner," he said. "Inflation, I think, is certainly on the table for the balance of 2016 and if it starts to increase at a more rapid pace, certainly that's going to be problematic."

The issue right now, Bittles said, is the notion that the market is still concerned about a slow-growth economy.

"Even a 25-basis-point hike … could still prevent the economy from growing above 2.5 percent which we really need to get. If we're going to get an earnings boost, certainly GDP has got to be somewhere closer to 3 percent than 2.5 percent. So I think that's the major concern," he said.

Steve Ricchiuto of Mizuho Securities USA, echoed Bittles' remarks.

"There's a problem that we're looking at, and it's bigger than just a monthly payroll employment number. ... It's a question of excess supply in both tradable goods and in commodities," the firm's chief U.S. economist told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Tuesday.

"We now live in a world of both excess supply of tradable goods and commodities, and therefore, we have an economy that, this year, will do three of its four quarters at less than 2 percent."

According to the CME Group's FedWatch tool, the likelihood of a Fed rate hike on Wednesday is about 80 percent.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.