The Federal Reserve maintained its target fed funds rate range of between zero and 0.25% on Wednesday. The Fed also reassured investors it will continue to support the economy via asset purchases while the U.S. navigates the ongoing pandemic.
“The Federal Reserve will continue to increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $80 billion per month and of agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $40 billion per month until substantial further progress has been made toward the Committee’s maximum employment and price stability goals,” the Fed said in a statement.
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The Fed said the asset purchases help ensure a functioning financial market and help provide credit to households and businesses that need it.
The statement comes after the U.S. added 245,000 jobs in November, significantly short of the 440,000 jobs economists were expecting. Wage growth was up less than 0.3% in the month, and the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 6.7%, its lowest level since March.
All 10 members voted unanimously to maintain current rates.
2021 And Beyond: Chairman Jerome Powell discussed the Fed’s new “average inflation targeting” policy in late August in which it may keep interest rates near 0% until inflation levels exceed its 2% inflation target.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released new “dot plot” economic forecasts. Twelve Fed members see no change to interest rates through at least 2023. Three members forecast rates will rise by 0.25%, one member forecasts a 0.5% rise and one member forecasts a 1% rise by 2023.
Federal Reserve members are projecting a 2021 U.S. unemployment rate of 5%, down from 5.5% in September. The committee’s 2020 GDP growth trade projection improved slightly from -3.7% to -2.4%. The Fed’s 2021 GDP growth rate projection also ticked higher from 4% to 4.2% for 2021. The Fed is now projecting 2021 PCE inflation of 1.8%, up from previous estimates of 1.7%.
Markets React: The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSE: SPY) traded slightly lower after the Fed announcement. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds increased slightly on Wednesday to 0.944%, up 0.023% on the day.
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