Federal Reserve bumps up U.S. interest rate, signals two more in 2018

Federal Reserve raises interest rates

Fed raises interest rates as unemployment nears record lows | TheHill

Traders also began pricing in a higher chance of a slightly steeper path of rate hikes next year, futures prices showed, though the path indicated by the Fed's forecasts stuck to the three rate hikes anticipated for 2019 based on Fed forecasts provided in March.

The change, announced after the conclusion of the Fed's two-day policy meeting, is aimed at better anchoring short-term rates that are surging, primarily because of increased Treasury bill issuance.

This hike, which was widely expected, is the Fed's second of 2018, and the central bank signalled it is likely to do two more increases by the end of this year. "The committee expects that further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will be consistent with sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the committee's symmetric 2 percent objective over the medium term", according to its statement following a meeting in Washington.

Inflation, which has been mysteriously low during the long economic recovery, has finally passed 2%, the level the Fed considers healthy.

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The Fed had said its key rate "is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run". For 2020, the Fed foresees a median rate of 3.4 percent. The unemployment rate is seen falling to 3.6 percent in 2018, compared to the 3.8 percent forecast in March. Should the Fed's expectations prove accurate, its rate policy would then be meant to slow the economy. Unemployment is 3.8%, the lowest since 2000, and inflation is creeping higher.

A gradual rise in inflation is coinciding with newfound economic strength. Inflation by the Fed's preferred gauge would hit its target of 2 percent this year and edge up to 2.1 percent over the next two years. Not since 1969 has the jobless rate been lower.

Growth is also expected to stay close to nearly 3 percent of GDP through the year, and Fed officials are eager to prevent the economy from overheating.

While many economists worry about a trade war harming growth, the Fed did not mention trade concerns in its statement. Canada, the European Union and Mexico have all pledged to retaliate with tariffs on USA imports, which some studies show could cost the US close to 200,000 jobs.

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