- The Federal Reserve on Wednesday lifted a key short-term interest rate for the second time in three months, but in a sign of caution, the central bank stuck to its forecast for just two more rate hikes this year.
- The bank’s policy committee voted 9-to-1 to raise the fed funds rate to a range of 0.75% to 1%. The cost of borrowing for mortgages and most other loans for businesses and consumers are tied to the benchmark rate.
- The Fed pointed to a steadily growing economy, improving labor market and a recent uptick in inflation that’s “moving close” to its 2% target to justify its decision.
- U.S. consumer prices rose at a slower pace in February.
- Clothing and housing costs rose last month, while motor vehicle and gasoline prices dipped.
- Consumer prices have risen 2.7 per cent over the past year. Excluding volatile food and energy categories, prices have increased 2.2 percent.
- U.S. retail sales in February posted the smallest gain in six months, indicating a tempering of the consumer spending that’s been carrying the economy.
- Purchases rose 0.1 percent, matching the Bloomberg survey median estimate, after a 0.6 percent increase in the prior month that was stronger than previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday. Just four of the 13 major retail categories saw gains in February sales.
- U.S. producer prices increased more than expected in February as the cost of services such as hotel accommodation pushed higher and the year-on-year gain was the largest in nearly five years, pointing to steadily rising inflation pressures.