The US central bank projected interest rates rising to 5.1 percent in 2023, higher than what investors expected.
The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by half a percentage point on Wednesday and projected at least an additional 0.75 percent of increases in borrowing costs by the end of 2023 as well as a rise in unemployment and a near stalling of economic growth.
The United States central bank’s projection of the target federal funds rate rising to 5.1 percent in 2023 is slightly higher than investors expected heading into this week’s two-day policy meeting and appeared biased if anything to move higher.
Only two of 19 Fed officials saw the benchmark overnight interest rate staying below 5 percent next year, a signal they still feel the need to lean into their battle against inflation that has been running at 40-year highs.
“The [Federal Open Market] Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks … Ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate in order to attain a stance of monetary policy that is sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to 2 percent over time,” the Fed said in a statement nearly identical to the one it issued at its November meeting.
The new statement, approved unanimously, was released after a meeting at which officials scaled back from the three-quarters-of-a-percentage-point rate increases that were delivered at the last four gatherings. The Fed’s policy rate, which began the year at the near-zero level, is now in a target range of 4.25 percent to 4.5 percent, the highest since late 2007.
The new rate outlook, a rough estimate of where officials feel they can pause their current rate-hike cycle, was issued along with economic projections showing an extended battle with inflation still to come, and with near recessionary conditions developing over the year.
Inflation, based on the Fed’s preferred measure, is seen remaining above the central bank’s 2 percent target at least until the end of 2025, and will still be above 3 percent by the end of next year.
The median projected unemployment rate is seen rising to 4.6 percent over the next year from the current 3.7 percent, an increase that exceeds the level historically associated with a recession.
Gross domestic product is seen growing by just 0.5 percent next year, the same as estimated for 2022, before rising to 1.6 percent in 2024 and 1.8 percent in 2025, a level considered to be the economy’s long-run potential.
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