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WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by half a percentage point on Wednesday and projected at least an additional 75 basis points of increases in borrowing costs by the end of 2023 as well as a rise in unemployment and a near stalling of economic growth.

The US central bank’s projection of the target federal funds rate rising to 5.1% in 2023 is slightly higher than investors expected heading into this week’s two-day policy meeting and appeared biased if anything to move higher.

Only two of 19 Fed officials saw the benchmark overnight interest rate staying below 5% next year, a signal they still feel the need to lean into their battle against inflation that has been running at 40-year highs.

“The (Federal Open Market) Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks Ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate in order to attain a stance of monetary policy that is sufficiently restrictive to return inflation to 2% over time,” the Fed said in a statement nearly identical to the one it issued at its November meeting.

The new statement, approved unanimously, was released after a meeting at which officials scaled back from the three-quarters-of-a-percentage-point rate increases delivered at the last four gatherings. The Fed’s policy rate, which began the year at the near-zero level, is now in a target range of 4.25% to 4.50%, the highest since late 2007.

US stocks turned negative following the release of the policy statement. In the US Treasury market, which plays a key role in the transmission of Fed policy decisions into the real economy, yields on the 2-year and 10-year notes rose. The dollar edged higher against a basket of currencies.

“Taken together, today’s statement and economic projections tell a simple, but persuasive story: this Fed isn’t prepared to ‘pivot’ in any meaningful way until it sees sustained and conclusive evidence of a reversal in inflationary pressures,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay.

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