The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark interest rate by a hefty three-quarters of a point for a second straight time in its most aggressive drive in more than three decades to tame high inflation.
The Fed’s move will raise its key rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%, its highest level since 2018.
Speaking at a news conference after the Fed’s latest policy meeting, Chair Jerome Powell offered mixed signals about the central bank’s likely next moves. He stressed that the Fed remains committed to defeating chronically high inflation, while holding out the possibility that it may soon downshift to smaller rate hikes.
Powell also stood by a forecast Fed officials made last month that their benchmark rate will reach a range of 3.25% to 3.5 % by year’s end and roughly a half-percentage point more in 2023. That forecast, if it holds, would mean a slowdown in the Fed’s hikes. The central bank would reach its year-end target if it were to raise its key rate by a half-point when it meets in September and by a quarter-point at each of its meetings in November and December.