March 15 (UPI) — As expected, the U.S. central bank on Wednesday raised benchmark interest rates another quarter-point.
Wednesday’s action represents the third time the Federal Open Market Committee has raised rates since the financial crisis. The federal funds rate remained near zero for years until policymakers voted for an increase in December 2015. The next hike came last December, and the FOMC left rates unchanged at its Feb. 1 meeting.
“Job gains remained solid and the unemployment rate was little changed in recent months. Household spending has continued to rise moderately while business fixed investment appears to have firmed somewhat,” the Fed said in a statement.
Inflation, always a key indicator for the Fed’s policymaking decisions, has gotten closer to the board’s 2 percent objective in recent quarters when energy and food prices are factored in, officials said.
The Fed said at its last meeting that it expected to raise rates three times in 2017.
The Federal Reserve will next meet to vote on another possible hike on April 26-27.