Federal Reserve foresees no interest rate hikes in 2019
Published 5:33 am Thursday, March 21, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve left its key interest rate unchanged Wednesday and projected no rate hikes this year, reflecting a dimmer view of the economy as growth weakens in the United States and abroad.
The Fed said it was keeping its benchmark rate — which can influence everything from mortgages to credit cards to home equity lines of credit — in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent. It also announced that it will stop shrinking its bond portfolio in September, a step that should help hold down long-term rates. It will begin slowing the runoff from its bond portfolio in May.
Combined, the moves signal no major increases in borrowing rates for consumers and businesses. And together with the Fed’s dimmer forecast for growth this year — 2.1 percent, down from a previous projection of 2.3 percent — the statement it issued after its latest policy meeting suggests it’s grown more concerned about the economy. What’s more, with inflation remaining mild, the Fed feels no pressure to tighten credit.
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In signaling no rate increases for 2019, the Fed’s policymakers reduced their forecast from two that were previously predicted in December. They now project one rate hike in 2020 and none in 2021. The Fed had raised rates four times last year and a total of nine times since 2015.
The central bank’s theme Wednesday, in its statement and in a news conference by Chairman Jerome Powell, is that it will remain continually “patient” about pursuing any further rate hikes.
The Fed’s decision was approved on an 11-0 vote.