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The Federal Reserve Board voted Wednesday to extend its pause on interest rate increases but left open the possibility of another rate hike at its upcoming December meeting. 

The decision by the central bank’s Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) marked the second consecutive meeting the Fed’s chief body for monetary policy has opted to keep the federal funds target interest rate steady at 5.25% – 5.50%.  

The Fed began a series of 11 interest rate increases to cool the economy and slow inflation in March 2022. The last increase was in July, leaving the benchmark federal funds rate at a 22-year high. 

The Fed has set a goal of a 2% annual inflation rate. The latest data for the 12-month period ending in September showed the national inflation rate was running at 3.7%. The U.S. inflation rate was at 8.5% back when the Fed began raising interest rates 20 months ago. 

“The committee is strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2% objective,” the FOMC said in a statement issued at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  

“In determining the extent of additional policy firming that may be appropriate to return inflation to 2% over time, the committee will take into account the cumulative tightening of monetary policy, the lags with which monetary policy affects economic activity and inflation, and economic and financial developments.” 

Stocks rose modestly immediately after the Fed announcement at 2 p.m. Treasury yields declined. 

The FOMC will revisit interest rates at its last meeting of 2023 on Dec. 12-13.