FOMC announcement: Fed keeps interest rates steady

"We believe the bar for the Fed to change its strategy is quite high, as the real economy is strong, optimism is high, inflation is on target, the unemployment rate is below NAIRU, wage growth is increasing and fiscal policy is expansionary". The FOMC said it expects to continue gradually raising rates as the economy expands.

"There was nothing in the policy statement to suggest that officials are wavering from their plans to hike interest rates again in December", said Michael Pearce, senior economist for Capital Economics.

Policymakers, however, took particular note of the moderation in business investment, an important component of GDP that can spin off jobs as companies build new facilities, and raise productivity as they upgrade equipment and processes.

"In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee made a decision to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 2 to 2 ¼ percent", the FOMC said in a statement.

Minutes from the Fed's policy meeting in September showed a "number" of members want to raise interest rates faster in the short term to make sure inflation doesn't take off well beyond their 2% target. "Is the Fed data-dependent or is it maintaining a rigid schedule for rate hikes in 2019?"

Imelda Marcos faces Philippines arrest after guilty verdict
The Sandiganbayan said the former first lady can have provisional liberty if she posts a cash bond while appealing the conviction. Chairperson Emeritus Etta Rosales said, "This legal victory is a two-decade struggle by the courageous Filipino people.

Yet December still seems firmly in play. "There were a couple words that were more muted â€" that business investment had "moderated" from its earlier pace.

"I don't think they'll pick up the pace of rate hikes right now, but if things accelerate the next few months they could increase the pace", says Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist for Natixis.

The S&P bank index .SPXBK ended the day with a 0.4 percent gain as U.S. Treasury yields rose because bank profits benefit from rising rates.

Energy stocks were the S&P's biggest drag with a 2.2 percent drop as US crude oil futures CLc1 confirmed a bear market, falling more than 20 percent from their October 3 high as investors focused on swelling global crude supply, which is increasing more quickly than many had expected.

Investors will hear from Powell next week when he is interviewed in Dallas by Robert Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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