The United States Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its policy interest rate to a range of 1.50% to 1.75% and retained its forecast of two more such increases this year. The central bank, meeting for the first time under new Chairperson Jerome Powell, noted that the economic growth in the US was strengthening.
“This decision marks another step in the ongoing process of gradually scaling back monetary policy accommodation, a process that has been underway for several years now,” Powell said.
The US Federal Reserve had kept interest rates at near-zero levels for nearly a decade to help boost the economy after the financial crisis of 2008. In the last two years, however, it has increased the rates gradually as the economy has recovered. The new rates are the highest since 2008.
Powell said several factors, including the fiscal policy and job gains, have contributed to the strengthening of the economic outlook.
The US dollar, however, saw its largest one-day loss against major currencies in two months on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The currency fell because the market had hoped that the Federal Reserve would raise its forecast of the number of more interest rate hikes in 2018.
Indian share markets gained in morning trade after the Federal Reserve’s decision, but closed lower amid fears of a trade war, following a Bloomberg report that US President Donald Trump would announce about $50 billion (Rs 3.2 lakh crore) in tariffs against China over intellectual property violations. The BSE Sensex lost over 129 points to close at 33,006, while the National Stock Exchange Nifty declined by over 40 points to 10,114.75.