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Dow Turns Positive After Fed Keeps Interest Rates Unchanged

by Jeff Cox, CNBC / / Source: CNBC.com
U.S. dollar bank notes. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

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The Federal Reserve voted Wednesday not to raise its key interest rate, as central bank officials expressed concern with the pace of economic growth.

In a move largely expected in financial markets, the Federal Open Market Committee unanimously agreed to keep its benchmark rate target at 0.75 percent to 1 percent. The rate is used as a guide for a variety of consumer debt instruments such as credit cards and adjustable-rate loans.

The Dow Jones erased earlier losses on the news, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains.

The Fed statement showed some misgivings about an economy that grew just 0.7 percent in the first quarter.

Adjustments from previous statements indicated that Fed officials judged at this week's two-day meeting that "economic activity slowed" while "household spending rose only modestly."

The statement did say it expected the first-quarter's anemic pace to speed up later in the year.

Related: Fed Raises Rate Hike in March, for Second Time in Three Months

President Donald Trump entered office in January on a pro-growth platform that has since stalled in Congress. Administration officials have expressed hope to get tax cuts approved before the end of the year, but no infrastructure spending program has been put forth. Congress has found itself preoccupied for much of the year with unsuccessful efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The Fed has raised rates twice since the election, the most recent in March, and is expected to approve another hike in June.

In projections released in March, Fed officials indicated two more hikes are on the way, while the futures market believes there's about a coin-flip chance of that happening. Wednesday's statement repeated sentiment that the Fed will raise rates gradually.

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