Text of the Fed's statement after its meeting Wednesday

Fed moves to prevent US economy from overheating

The Fed said it expects to raise rates twice more this year. The challenge for the central bank is to balance low unemployment with the potential for higher inflation.

Shortly before Powell spoke, the Federal Open Market Committee raised interest rates for the sixth time since December 2015.

"Taking trade restrictive measures will not only impede normal worldwide trade order but also cause serious damage to the multilateral trade system", Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen said at a two-day World Trade Organization ministerial meeting that ended on Tuesday. There have been moderate increases in wages and price inflation, but the Fed is "very alert" to any increases that could result from the very low unemployment rate. The move places USA interest rates in a band from 1.5 to 1.75% which is still very low by historic standards.

The Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, warned that a U.S. trade war would pose a risk to the outlook for the U.S. economy.

The Fed's willingness to tolerate the recent rise in inflation should come as no surprise.

The Dow, having initially jumped as much as 250 points, ended down 44.

The Nikkei average climbed 211.02 points or 0.99 percent to 21,591.99 as trading resumed after a national holiday on Wednesday. Volume rose from Tuesday's levels, according to preliminary figures. Powell, a former Fed governor, succeeded Janet Yellen last month. "Several factors are supporting the outlook: Fiscal policy has become more stimulative; ongoing job gains are boosting incomes and confidence; foreign growth is on a firm trajectory; and overall financial conditions remain accommodating".

The Fed hasn't hiked rates four times in a year since 2006.

Despite declining 0.8 percent leading up to the Fed's announcement, the price of silver rose from US$16.42 per ounce pre-confirmation to reach US$16.56 after the hike was made official.

"I think they will end up tightening four times this year, but they don't have to signal that yet", said Jim O'Sullivan, chief USA economist at High Frequency Economics.

Documents issued by the central bank show that its monetary policy committee has a strong consensus for at least two more rate hikes this year, with growing sentiment that the rate could approach 2.5% by the end of 2018.

Central bankers see growth picking up this year and next, with GDP gaining 2.7% in 2018 and 2.4% in 2019.

The Trump administration recently announced steel and aluminium tariffs and is weighing sanctions against China, actions that have led to threats of retaliation. But he said the Fed's regional bank presidents have heard concerns from businesses about the consequences of the tariffs.

Just focusing on the median of Fed officials' forecasts for interest rates, as Mr. Powell emphasized in his news conference, can mask the degree of the shift. "Their earnings growth will accelerate for the next two to three years". In January, officials described economic activity and job growth as "solid".

The statement did not mention the extra government stimulus that has been added since the Fed's most recent economic forecast in the form of a $1.5 trillion tax cut and a budget agreement that will add $300 billion in government spending over two years.



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