Fed raises interest rates and signals faster hikes on the way

Wednesday, 13 Jun, 2018

Since Ben Bernanke, the former Fed chairman, started pressers in April 2011, they've been held once every quarter.

Policy makers said in a one-page statement that the labor market "has continued to strengthen" and than economic activity "has been rising at a solid rate". "This change is only about improving communications".

The decision reflected an economy that's getting even stronger. For 2020, the Fed foresees a median rate of 3.4 percent. Unemployment is already at 3.8 percent, the lowest since 2000, and the Fed believes it will fall to 3.6 percent by the end of the year, which would be the best rate since the 1960s. 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. Investors had given just over a 91 percent chance of a rate rise on Wednesday, according to an analysis by CME Group. The unemployment rate is seen falling to 3.6 percent in 2018, compared to the 3.8 percent forecast in March.

Beginning in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis, the Fed kept its key rate unchanged at a record low near zero for seven years. When the Fed tightens credit, it aims to do so without derailing the economy.

Powell faces a tricky balancing act as the Fed attempts to bring interest rates toward historical averages. It's the second rate hike under Powell, a Republican appointed to lead the Fed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhat you need to know about Tuesday's elections Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary Laxalt, Sisolak to face off in Nevada governor's race MORE.

Trump's imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has enraged US allies.

A global trade war would risk cutting into US economic growth by depressing American export sales and raising inflation by making consumers and businesses pay more for imports.

In a technical move, the central bank also made a decision to set the interest rate it pays banks on excess reserves - its chief tool for moderating short-term interest rates - at just below the upper level of its target range.