Defying Trump, Fed hikes interest rates by a quarter-point
Defying the wishes of President Donald Trump, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate although the central bank did lower its forecast for how many more increases will be needed in the future.
The central bank now penciled in two rate hikes in 2019, not the three moves seen in September, and it still forecasts just one more hike for 2020.
But the Fed was not completely dovish.
Six Fed officials penciled in three rate hikes in 2019. The Fed statement repeated that further rate hikes were expected — a clause some economists thought the central bank would take out of the statement entirely.
In its assessment of the economy, the Fed continued to stress how firm the economic data have been, using the word “strong” or “strengthen” to describe the labor market, household spending and economic activity.
The only weak spot seen was the moderation in business fixed investment, and in nod to both the turmoil in financial markets and the global economy, it said it will “continue to monitor global economic and financial developments and assess their implications for the global economic outlook.”
Officials were a little less optimistic about growth in 2019. They lowered their expectations for inflation lowered their expectation of inflation as well.
The Fed projects inflation will only rise slightly above 2% target in 2020 and 2021.
In another dovish signal, officials also cut their estimate of the so-called neutral rate to 2.8% from 3%.