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US Fed raises benchmark interest rate a quarter point

AFP  |  Washington 

The US Federal Reserve today raised the benchmark a quarter point, noting that is moving closer to the central bank's two percent target.

But in announcing the first move since President Donald Trump took office in January, the Fed gave no hint that rates might have to rise more quickly if the pushes through its pro-growth policies, including cuts and spending programs.

The Fed's policy-setting (FOMC) voted to raise the key federal funds rate to a range of 0.75-1.0 percent. There was one dissenting voice.

Neel Kashkari, the newly installed president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, voted against it, preferring to hold off on raising rates.

"has increased in recent quarters, moving close to the Committee's 2 percent longer-run objective," the statement said, while also noting that "the labor market continued to strengthen" amid solid job gains, and that "economic activity has continued to expand at a moderate pace."

The once again said it expects those economic improvements to continue with only "gradual adjustments" in the policy interest rate, although Fed Chair Janet Yellen has cautioned that policies that boost the pace of economic growth could prompt the Fed to raise rates faster.

In its quarterly economic projections, the central bankers still see the federal funds rate rising to 1.4 percent by the end of the year, which would imply another two increases, unchanged from the previous forecast.

They see the benchmark rate rising to 2.1 percent next year, the same as in the December Summary of Economic Projections (SEP), which would mean another two rate hikes in 2018.

The was widely expected by economists, given recent signs of increased hiring and rising inflation, but attention ahead of the two-day meeting shifted to whether the central would feel pressure to increase rates more than anticipated this year.

Yellen is due to speak at a conference to explain the decision, and Fed-watchers will scrutinize her comments carefully for any indication they are considering additional rate hikes.

The Fed last acted in December when it adopted only its second increase in a decade, but it has repeatedly cited the uncertainty surrounding economic outlook while details of Trump's economic policy program remain scarce.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 16 2017. 00:22 IST