The US Federal Reserve Holds Rates Steady


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The US Federal Reserve (Fed) decided on Wednesday to hold interest rates in the 5.25% to 5.50% range for the fifth consecutive time, in line with market expectations. Officials added that they do not believe it is advisable to reduce the target range until they have gained more confidence that inflation is moving towards the 2% target range. However, central bank officials still expect to cut interest rates three times in 2024.

Federal Reserve officials maintained their outlook for rate cuts, now anticipated in 2024, despite observing robust growth and stronger-than-expected inflation in recent months

The majority of officials forecast three rate cuts for 2024 in new projections, similar to those in December. The Fed kept its benchmark federal funds rate unchanged at a 23-year high of 5.25% to 5.50%.

Wall Street focused on the economic projections released on Wednesday, eager for insights into how January and February inflation readings impacted the US central bank’s estimates. This year’s stronger price pressures ended the second half of last year’s weak inflation reports, raising doubts about achieving the 2% inflation target as quickly as anticipated.

Inflation Pressure

Despite ongoing efforts, inflation in the United States remains above the desired 2% target, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) reaching 3.2% in February, posing challenges to the Federal Reserve’s goal of curbing inflation to 2%.

The US Consumer Price Index was 3.2% in February, closely following January’s rate of 3.1%, despite market predictions of 2.9%.

Stocks rose and bond yields fell following the Federal Reserve’s announcement, which confirmed ongoing forecasts of three rate cuts in 2024, thereby alleviating concerns over the continuation of high interest rates.

Equities moved to another record high on speculation that easing policies will boost earnings estimates for US companies. A rally in Treasuries curtailed the sell-off this year, which was driven by concerns that rates will remain elevated for much longer.

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