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In this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Joint Economic Committee. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

The Fed raised interest rates again, showing its confidence in the economy

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The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in six months on Wednesday, showing it believes the U.S. economy is growing, albeit slowly. 

Economists expected the hike, which brought the target range of the federal funds rate up a quarter percentage point to between 1 percent and 1.25 percent. 

The central bank said it still expects to increase rates one more time this year, despite weak inflation and weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales.

Here's a link to the Fed's official statement on the adjustment.

Inflation is one of two mandates the Fed watches when it makes rate decisions. Unemployment hit its lowest point in 16 years in May, dropping down to 4.4 percent. 

While the labor market is somewhat slowing, it has seen steady gains. The Fed, in its statement, said, "job gains have moderated" but remain on track.

One point of potential concern is the lack of wage growth. In theory, these hikes should gradually help lift borrowing costs for consumers and businesses.

According to WalletHub, American now have more than a trillion dollars in credit card debt.

What this means for consumers is that they should pay off their credit card balances sooner rather than later.

As the Associated Press put it, "Fed officials have concluded that the economy, now entering its ninth year of expansion, no longer needs the ultra-low borrowing rates they supplied beginning in the Great Recession." Meaning, they will likely keep raising rates in 2018.

The central bank is laying out a plan to unwind its massive balance sheet. 


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