Fed does not raise interest rates in first meeting of 2017

And since higher wages tend to accelerate inflation, economists say that could persuade the USA central bank to raise interest rates at a faster pace.

But, notably, in the accompanying press release, the committee pointed to the improving business and consumer sentiments in the aftermath of the USA presidential election. While inflation has increased in recent quarters, the Fed noted, it was still below the bank's long-run 2% target.

In a statement it issued after its latest policy meeting, the Fed said it wants more time to monitor the economy and still envisions a gradual pace of rate increases. The unemployment rate is now 4.7 percent, at or near the level many policymakers consider to be full employment.

Monetary policymakers in Washington DC thus kept the range for the Fed funds rate at between 0.50% and 0.75%, as expected.

It reached as high as 100.01 earlier on Wednesday.

And inflation, by the Fed's preferred measure, rose 1.6 percent in the 12 months that ended in December, moving closer to the Fed's 2 percent goal.

Economic activity continued to expand "at a moderate pace" and the unemployment rate stayed at its recent low level of 4.7 percent, while household spending continued to increase, it added.

While few analysts expect the Fed to raise interest rates this afternoon, the FOMC may hint that a rate hike is coming in March. And it indicated it expected to implement three interest rate increases this year. A survey of investors conducted by Bloomberg suggests there's a 38 percent chance that the first rate hike in 2017 will come at the central bank's next board meeting, in March. Trump claimed the Fed was keeping rates artificially low for the political benefit of President Obama, a claim fiercely resisted by the Fed, as officials are strongly protective of the institution's reputation as politically independent.

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