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Financial News: Fed Hints At March Rate Hike

Fed Hints At March Rate Hike

01/31/2018 - 14:02:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - As expected, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday voted to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged, in a range between 1.25 percent and 1.5 percent.

The accompanying statement hinted that the Fed will increase the benchmark rate at its next meeting, in late March, thanks to an improving economy and signs of inflation.

"Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in December indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a solid rate," the statement read.

"Gains in employment, household spending, and business fixed investment have been solid, and the unemployment rate has stayed low."

The Fed said it expects inflation to "move up" in 2018, setting the table for one of three rate hikes projected by year's end.

It was the last meeting for Fed Chair Janet Yellen. She will be replaced this weekend by Jerome H. Powell, a member of the Fed's board, at the behest of President Trump.

Yellen leaves the Fed in fairly good standing among economist. Most credit her with having a steady hand as the economy steadied following years of unprecedented measures in the wake of the financial collapse of 2007-2008.

"Working collaboratively and effectively with other Fed governors and regional presidents, she has engineered an ongoing "beautiful normalization" -- that is, a gradual, cautious and sequential exit from years of unconventional monetary policies that has neither disrupted markets nor derailed growth," Mohamed El-Erian, noted economist, recently wrote.

"The new Fed chair, Jerome Powell, is well placed to build on and successfully extend this achievement."

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