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WASHINGTON: US Federal Reserve officials will likely leave their policy rate on hold at this week’s meeting thanks in large part to a new dynamic unfolding before them: Other forces are finally doing the work for them.

While the benchmark rate they set every six weeks or so has sat unchanged since July - a horizon that now looks to extend to December if not longer - rates on the open market that determine borrowing costs for businesses and consumers have kept climbing and now look poised to finally slow what has been a surprisingly strong economy.

Indeed fresh tidbits on the lending environment are likely to feature prominently in briefing materials ahead of the Federal Reserve’s Oct 31-Nov. 1 rate-setting meeting.

The Fed’s latest survey on banking conditions won’t be published until the Monday after next week’s meeting, but past practice suggests findings from its October Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey, or SLOOS, are in policymakers’ hands this week.

The Fed began its rate-hike campaign against high inflation in March of 2022, taking the policy rate from near zero then to 5.25%-5.50% as of July of this year.

Data published from Fed surveys currently in the public domain shows banks have already tightened standards for all kinds of business and consumer loans, demand for most types of loans has weakened, and growth for all stripes of loans has slowed.

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