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US Fed raises key interest rate

US Fed raises key interest rate
Highlights

The US central bank on Thursday raised the benchmark interest rate for the third and final time this year, and indicated it was not likely to be more aggressive next year, at least for now.

Washington: The US central bank on Thursday raised the benchmark interest rate for the third and final time this year, and indicated it was not likely to be more aggressive next year, at least for now.

Citing the strong labour market and solid economy, the Fed’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee increased the key lending rate to 1.25-1.5 per cent, an increase of a quarter point on the cost of loans for everything from houses to cars.

The quarterly forecasts by Fed officials showed no change in the expectations for policy moves in 2018 and 2019, with three rate hikes expected next year and one in the following year, identical to their September projections, indicating they are no more concerned about rising prices.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the decision was prompted by the continued strong labour market, even while officials expect job gains to slow somewhat. “Allowing the labour market to overheat would raise the risk that monetary policy would need to tighten abruptly at a later stage, jeopardising the economic expansion,” Yellen said at a press conference following the two-day meeting.

However, there remains some disagreement among policymakers about the need to raise rates since there are few signs that inflation is accelerating even with very low unemployment. Two Fed officials voted against the rate increase, the first time there was more than one dissenter since November 2016.

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