The International Monetary Fund has warned the US Federal Reserve against raising interest rates this year.A rise risks adding to the growing economic and political threats to US growth, the IMF said in a health check on the world’s largest economy.

IMF says US Fed should delay

Many economists had forecast a rise in September, although recent economic and jobs data had dampened expectations.

The Washington-based IMF also warned that US share prices were hitting unsustainable levels.

A rate rise would trigger more gains in the value of the dollar, something that the IMF has said previously this year could stall growth and impact across emerging markets.

The dollar has risen about 20% against a basket of currencies during the past 12 months.

On Tuesday, the IMF said “growth could be significantly debilitated” by another rise in the dollar. Barring a major change in circumstances, the organisation urged keeping rates at the current 0.25% “into the first half of 2016 with a gradual rise in the federal funds rate thereafter”.

‘Unpredictable’ economies

Weaker global growth, including in China, would sap US exports and investment in certain sectors, the report said, adding: “Finally, risks from Russia/Ukraine, Greece or the Middle East represent an unpredictable wild card with negative, but difficult to quantify, effects for the US.”

The chairwoman of the Fed, Janet Yellen, has said that any rate rises would be gradual, but hinted last month that the first increase would come this year.

Meanwhile, the Fund’s report also warned of the risks of rising US stock markets. Although the major indexes have recently eased from record highs, share prices “are approaching levels that may be hard to sustain given profit forecasts”, it said.

The IMF highlighted the risk of nervous investors panic selling and of mutual funds being forced to sell in a collapsing market.