WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve held its benchmark interest rate steady Wednesday and sent its strongest signal to date that it sees no need to raise rates anytime soon. Its message ignited a rally on Wall Street, which cheered the prospect of continued modest borrowing rates for the near future.
The Fed and its chairman, Jerome Powell, pointed to global economic pressures and consistently mild inflation as reasons to keep rates steady. The policymakers also said they’re prepared to slow the reduction of their bond holdings if needed to help the economy.
In a statement after its latest policy meeting, the Fed said it would be “patient” about future rate hikes. Its benchmark short-term rate will remain in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent after having been raised four times last year. The Fed’s key rate influences many loan rates for businesses and consumers, including mortgages.
The picture sketched by Powell and the Fed was of a U.S. economy that remains on firm footing with low inflation but that faces risks from a global slowdown and a U.S. trade war with China.
Before raising rates again, Powell said, he would need to see rising inflation. The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge has risen 1.8 percent in the past 12 months, below its 2 percent annual target.
Pleased by the Fed’s benign outlook, investors sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average up nearly 435 points and back above the 25,000 level.