Dec. 14 (UPI) — With the labor market strengthening and economic activity rising at a solid rate, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced the third rate-hike of the year.
The announcement explains that jobs gains are solid, unemployment rates have further declined, household spending is expanding and business investment is up.
The expected move raises rates by a quarter point to a range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.
Wednesday’s hike is the fifth since the end of the financial crisis. This year, the Fed previously raised interest rates in quarter-point increments in March and June.
Over the last year, overall inflation and inflation for items besides food and energy have declined and are running below the Fed’s 2 percent target. Hurricanes that wreaked havoc on southern coastal states had little effect on the rest of the nation.
“Hurricane-related disruptions and rebuilding have affected economic activity, employment, and inflation in recent months but have not materially altered the outlook for the national economy,” the central bank said. “Consequently, the committee continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market conditions will remain strong.”
During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Fed Chair Janet L. Yellen said the nation’s economy is performing well.
“There’s less to lose sleep about now than has been true for quite some time,” she said.
Yellen, who is leaving her position early February, said she is working toward a smooth transition for her successor, Fed governor Jerome “Jay” Powell.