Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Fed votes to keep rates steady

The consumer price index showed modest growth in February, according a recent U.S. Labor Department report.

The economy is showing growth, but more will be needed before raising the benchmark interest rates again, the Federal Open Market Committee decided Wednesday.

Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen said Wednesday that based on economic projections for continued steady growth, she expects the FOMC to approve slight rate increases twice before the end of 2016. For now though, rates are staying put.

Among the positive U.S. economic signs noted were continued low unemployment and slight gains in consumer prices, indicating some inflation. The consumer price index, excluding food and oil, increased 0.3% in February for the second month straight.

The marked drop in oil prices over the past year and half have been a major factor in preventing inflation gains. The gasoline index plunged 13.0% in February. Conversely, however, economists including Yellen expect money that consumers save at the gas pump will eventually be circulated back into the economy, boosting consumer spending and GDP growth.