Fed Raises Interest Rates, Signalling Confidence in Ecomony

(CN) – The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday and suggested there will be at least two more rate hikes in 2018.

In its first policy meeting under new Fed chairman Jerome Powell, the central bank raised its benchmark overnight lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a range of 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent.

In an accompanying statement, it said “the economic outlook has strengthened in recent months” and inflation “is expected to move up in coming months and stabilize.”

Powell, who took over from former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin in early February also held his first news conference Wednesday.

said Fed officials haven’t lowered their economic growth forecasts because of the Trump administration’s moves to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

But he said Federal Reserve Bank presidents around the country have heard concerns from businesses in their districts about the impact of the tariffs.

“Trade policy has become a concern going forward for that group,” he said.

Powell also said he is thinking about holding more press briefings that predecessor, although he has not yet made a decision.

Currently the Fed holds four press conferences a year, following meetings when they issue their quarterly economic projections. The practice was instituted by former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke.

While the interest rate hike was widely expected, it is also seen as a move away from years of stimulating the economy in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis.

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