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Federal Reserve Continues Rate Hikes, Reaching a 22-Year High Amid Cooling Inflation

The Federal Reserve continues its series of interest rate hikes, marking another 0.25 percentage point increase and hitting a 22-year high.

This move elevates the overnight federal funds rate to a band of 5.25%-5.5%, as part of the Fed's ongoing initiative to combat skyrocketing prices, despite recent signs of receding inflation.

"Current signals indicate a moderate expansion in economic activity," shared the Federal Open Market Committee, the group responsible for setting policy, in a statement following the decision.

In their June statement, the committee described the economy's growth as "modest", which denotes a minor enhancement in their outlook due to the influx of strong economic data.

"Employment gains have been solid lately, with the unemployment rate remaining low," they stated, echoing previous remarks and again acknowledging the continued high levels of inflation.

The June policy statement saw minimal alterations, and provided no indication that the Fed might halt its interest rate hikes in response to recent benign inflation figures.

As of June, the majority of policymakers projected two more interest rate hikes in 2023. The lack of opposing language suggests the plan remains on track, which implies another rate increase in the upcoming months.

The federal funds rate has not been this high since early 2001.

This represents the 11th rate increase by the Fed since March 2022, amid inflation cooling down from a high of roughly 9% last year to 3% for the year ending June. The decision was agreed upon unanimously.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told reporters that the bank would consider a "meeting by meeting" strategy for future potential rate hikes.

Powell mentioned it's "definitely plausible" for another rate hike in September, but it's also "feasible that we may opt to maintain the current rate at that time."

The June Consumer Price Index report revealed a drastic fall in overall inflation. Other information suggests that while the job market remains tight, hiring speed is decelerating. These trends align with the Fed's objectives to guide inflation back to its 2% target.

"We must be cautious about drawing conclusions from a single reading," Powell said, responding to a question about why the data didn't support a decision to keep rates stable again.

Powell announced that Federal Reserve staff economists no longer predict a recession for this year, "considering the economy's recent resilience."

Such projections, which operate independently from those made by Fed officials, indicated a "mild recession" starting later this year as per a June meeting.


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