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Fed holds the line on interest rates

As widely expected, the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged.

Following a two-day meeting on Wednesday, the central bank’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) kept the short-term federal funds rate in the range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.

The FOMC statement noted solid gains in employment, household spending and investment by businesses, but continued low levels of inflation below its annual target of 2 percent.

Notably, this was outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s last meeting on the FOMC.

Analysts expect the Fed to raise the federal funds rate two or three times this year. The most likely dates are in March, June, September or December, where incoming Fed Chair Jerome Powell has scheduled news conferences to explain monetary policy.

National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said mortgage rates could rise beyond 4.5 percent in the second half of the year, driven up by incremental increases to the federal funds rate and the Fed’s gradual unwinding of its balance sheet.

“The Fed will not be on standby for the remainder of the year,” Yun said. “A total of three short-term rate hikes are likely.” 


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