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The Federal Reserve took note of a resilient USA economy Wednesday by raising its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaling that it may step up its pace of rate increases.

Announcing the decision to increase its target for the fed-funds rate to a range of 1.75% to 2%, the Fed described the U.S. jobs market as "strong" and said economic activity had been rising at "a solid rate".

Projections released after the Fed's two-day meeting in Washington show policymakers expect the United States economy will grow 2.8% this year, while unemployment falls to 3.6%.

With the summit out of the way, the market focus is quickly shifting to the Fed's two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday and a European Central Bank decision on Thursday.

On inflation, policy makers forecast a slight overshoot of their target starting in 2018 at 2.1 per cent, and running through 2019 and 2020, compared with a 2020 overshoot in March's projections. The Fed's unemployment rate level declined to 3.6%, but inflation remained stable.

In its updated forecasts, the Fed envisions stronger growth this year - 2.8 per cent, up from the 2.7 per cent it predicted in March.

With employers hiring at a solid pace month after month, unemployment has reached 3.8 per cent. That means that by then, it thinks its key rate will finally exceed the 2.9 percent it sees as neutral - as neither stimulating nor restraining growth.

And a majority of policy makers said they now expect a total of four interest rate increases this year.

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The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by 25 basis points and signaled two more rate hikes this year.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell underscored his own satisfaction with the recovery in his remarks on Wednesday, saying the economy was in "great shape" and even going so far as to hint that he no longer feels constrained by the Janet Yellen-era fear of slipping back to zero interest rates. Consumer and business spending is powering the economy, in part a result of the tax cut President Donald Trump pushed through Congress late previous year.

Fed officials have begun to debate publicly how close the economy is to overheating. Prices did not spike in response to the vast monetary stimulus, nor has the job market cooled since 2015 when the Fed began tightening policy.

The economic expansion has survived for nine years and is now the second-longest in history.

But for now, the Atlanta Fed estimates the USA economy is roaring at a 4.6 percent rate, a level it reached only twice since the recession.

Also notable was that the Fed deleted about 80 words of its statement that said it expected the economy to "evolve in a manner that will warrant further gradual increases" in rates.

Keeping investors in check were concerns about US threats to impose tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese goods.

While many economists worry about a trade war harming growth, the Fed did not mention trade concerns in its statement.


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