Fed Hikes Rates for First Time in 7 Years

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WASHINGTON (AP)–

The Fed just lifted rates, ending seven years of an extraordinary measure to combat the damage from the 2008 financial crisis.

Fed officials voted unanimously to raise the key federal funds rate — the interest banks charge each other overnight — to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent, up from near-zero for the first time since December 2008.

Fed officials made the move in response to seemingly robust 5 percent unemployment. But in addition to maximizing employment, the Fed is responsible for maintaining stable prices. Inflation remains below the Fed’s 2 percent target. The statement by the central bank acknowledged the drag from declines in energy prices and decline in inflation expectations, even though it still expects to reach its target “over the medium term.”

The result is that any future rate hikes will be “gradual” and depend on further progress toward the inflation goal.