Fed leaves key policy rate unchanged
The Federal Reserve has left its key policy rate unchanged but signaled that it plans to keep responding to the strong U.S. economy with more interest rate hikes. The next rate hike is expected in December.
The Fed left its benchmark rate in a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. A statement it issued Thursday after its latest policy meeting portrayed the economy as robust, with healthy job growth, low unemployment, solid consumer spending and inflation near the Fed’s 2 percent target.
Despite a U.S. trade war with key nations, weaker corporate investment and a sluggish housing market, the Fed is showing confidence in the economy’s resilience. To help control inflation, it has projected three rate increases in 2019 after an expected fourth hike of the year next month.
In deciding how fast or slowly to keep raising rates, the Fed will be monitoring the pace of growth, the job market’s strength and gauges of inflation for clues to how the economy may evolve in the coming months. The brisk pace of economic growth – a 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, after a 4.2 percent rate in the previous quarter – has raised the risk that inflation could begin accelerating.
Even after three increases this year, the Fed’s benchmark rate is still low by historical standards.