Federal Reserve Slashes Rates for Third Time Amid Uncertainty

A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the rate decision of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(CN) – For the third time this year, the Federal Reserve cut its key interest rate in hopes of keeping alive the longest economic expansion on record as the trade war with China rages on and global growth slows.

The central bank announced another quarter-point cut Wednesday in the benchmark short-term rate, which influences consumer and business loans from mortgages to credit cards and home equity lines of credit.

After dropping last month to a range of 1.75% to 2%, the rate is now between 1.5% and 1.75%.

The Fed said in a statement Wednesday that the decision, made in an 8-2 vote, was based on “the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures.”

“Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Although household spending has been rising at a strong pace, business fixed investment and exports remain weak,” the statement reads. “Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed.”

While inflation has stayed below the 2% annual target, economists do not expect the central bank to cut rates again this year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has indicated that the rate cuts are meant to protect against rising threats to economic stability.

President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has gone on for over a year and analysts do not expect a new trade agreement to be finalized this year.

Meanwhile, markets in Europe and Asia have seen slower growth. Britain’s impending withdrawal from the European Union could also destabilize European markets next year and affect the U.S. economy, which entered its 11th straight year of expansion this summer.

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