The Federal Open Market Committee today announced it would raise the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 4.75% to 5%. The decision marked the ninth consecutive increase, but for the first time since the FOMC began raising rates last year, committee members signaled that further increases may not be necessary.
In a statement, the FOMC said the U.S. banking system “is sound and resilient.” However, it added that recent developments will likely result in tighter credit conditions for households and businesses, and will weigh on economic activity, hiring and inflation. “The extent of these effects is uncertain,” the committee added.
The FOMC said “additional policy firming” may be appropriate to combat inflation. However, unlike in previous rate hikes, the committee said did not say that it anticipates that further rate hikes would be necessary. In a news conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said before recent events in the banking sector, committee members were on track to continue with rate hikes throughout the year, perhaps even at a higher rate than they forecasted during their December meeting because of recent economic data showing persistent inflationary pressures.
“We are committed to restoring price stability and all the evidence says that the public has confidence that we will do so—that we will bring inflation down to 2% over time,” Powell said. “It is important that we sustain that confidence with our actions as well as our words.”