US Federal Reserve lifts rates amid stronger inflation

U.S. Stock Indexes

Fed Chair Jerome Powell underscored his own satisfaction with the recovery in his remarks on Wednesday, saying the economy was in "great shape" and even going so far as to hint that he no longer feels constrained by the Janet Yellen-era fear of slipping back to zero interest rates. Ahead of the announcement, markets were pricing in a almost 100% chance of a rate hike.

Most officials also expect the Fed will have to raise rates at least three times in 2019 and then at least once in 2020.

That implies four total rate increases this year.

But for now, the Atlanta Fed estimates the USA economy is roaring at a 4.6 percent rate, a level it reached only twice since the recession. The statement the Fed issued Wednesday after its latest policy meeting ended suggested that he does.

Economists had predicted the Fed would make this change to overcome the common view that the central bank will not change the benchmark interest rate at a meeting that does not include a press conference, which limits its options.

August gold futures last traded at $1,299.20 an ounce, relatively unchanged on the day.

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In a technical move, the central bank also chose 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.

The U.S. central bank has upgraded its economic outlook in the past year due to a rise in global growth along with Congress' approved tax cuts and an increase in federal spending.

The Federal Reserve is guiding a USA economy that is as close to ideal as it could have dreamed a decade ago, when the darkest days of the recession forced it to take big risks to protect workers, banks and economies around the world from further devastation. Economic activity is projected to expand 2.4% in 2019, unchanged from the previous forecast; finally, the economy is expected to grow 2.0% in 2020, unchanged from the previous forecast. Likewise, they saw the median Fed funds rate at 3.1% at the end of 2019, up from 2.9% in March 2018. The Fed's new projection for the pace of rate hikes shows four this year, three in 2019 and one in 2020.

The Fed's short-term policy rate, a benchmark for a host of other borrowing costs, is now roughly equal to the rate of inflation, a breakthrough of sorts in the central bank's battle in recent years to return monetary policy to a normal footing. Much of the increase is tied to fast-rising gasoline prices.

Core inflation projections, which strip out volatile food and energy prices, is expected to tick slightly higher to 2.0% this year, up from March's projection of 1.9%. US payrolls expanded by more than 1 million workers in the first five months of 2018, reaching the milestone faster than in the previous two years. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication. This article is strictly for informational purposes only.

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