Fed keeps interest rates unchanged at Yellen's final meeting

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The Federal Reserve left the benchmark interest rate unchanged Wednesday after its first policy meeting of 2018 but said it expects inflation to move up this year, a possible signal of faster rate increases ahead.

While price measures have remained below the central bank's two percent target, the Fed said, "Inflation on a 12-month basis is expected to move up this year."

At Janet Yellen's final meeting as chair, the Fed kept its key short-term rate in a still-low range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent.

Yellen led a cautious approach to rate increases in four years as chair, and Jerome Powell, who will succeed her next week, has indicated he favors a similar approach.

The Fed raised its key rate three times in 2017, and most economists expect the Powell-led Fed to do so at least three additional times this year beginning in March. Powell has been a Yellen ally and among the Fed's consensus-builders in 5½ years on the central bank's board.

That change of language will fuel expectations that the Fed could raise the key lending rate more than the expected three times this year.

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