The Federal Reserve in the United States has hiked interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade a short while ago, signaling faith that the U.S. economy had largely overcome the wounds of the 2007-2009 financial crisis.
The U.S. central bank’s policy-setting committee raised the range of its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to between 0.25 percent and 0.50 percent, Reuters reported.
“The Committee judges that there has been considerable improvement in labor market conditions this year, and it is reasonably confident that inflation will rise over the medium term to its 2 percent objective,” the Fed said in its policy statement, which was adopted unanimously.
The Fed made clear that the rate hike was a tentative beginning to a “gradual” tightening cycle, and that in deciding its next move it would put a premium on monitoring inflation, which remains mired below target.
“In light of the current shortfall of inflation from 2 percent, the Committee will carefully monitor actual and expected progress toward its inflation goal. The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate,” the Fed said.
New economic projections from Fed policymakers were largely unchanged from September, with unemployment anticipated to fall to 4.7 percent next year and economic growth at 2.4 percent.
The statement and its promise of a gradual path represents a compromise between those who have been ready to raise rates for months and those who feel the economy is still at risk.
The median projected target interest rate for 2016 remained 1.375 percent, implying four quarter-point rate hikes next year.