Fed hints at possible rate hikes


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Federal Reserve officials earlier this month said that a strong economy meant that it would “likely soon be appropriate” to boost their benchmark interest rate for a third time this year.

But minutes of their discussions released Wednesday also revealed deepening concerns that escalating trade wars could hurt the economy.

The minutes underscore expectations that the central bank is likely to increase its policy rate at its next meeting in September. Many economists believe another rate hike will follow in December.

The Fed has raised rates seven times since late 2015 to make sure the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years does not trigger unwanted inflation.

The Fed raised rates in March and June, pushing the federal funds rate to a level of 1.75 percent to 2 percent. The rate remained at a record low near zero for seven years from late 2008 to late 2015 as the central bank tried to combat the worst recession since the 1930s with low rates to encourage more borrowing by consumers and businesses.

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