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November 8, 2018

Fed leaves rates unchanged, signals December hike

The continued strength of the American economy made it more likely that the Federal Reserve will stick to its plans to raise rates in December, part of a strategy to keep growth on an even keel into 2019.

Fed policymakers agreed to hold rates steady this month, according to a statement released Thursday at the conclusion of a two-day policy-setting meeting in Washington.

That leaves the benchmark rate, which determines the cost of borrowing on credit cards, mortgages and other loans, unchanged in a range of 2% and 2.25%.

Since Fed officials met in late September, "the labor market continues to strengthen," the statement read. "Economic activity has been rising at a strong rate."

The statement also described job growth as "strong."

Markets have gone up this week since Democrats retook control of the House in Tuesday's midterms -- a widely expected development that likely guarantees two years of gridlock in Washington and an array of fresh investigations into the Trump administration.

The Fed is widely expected to raise rates at its final meeting in December with a majority of participants now in favor of the move, and investors anticipate policymakers will push rates higher at least three more times in 2019, a standard policy response to a booming economy that also buys central bankers wiggle room in the event of a downturn.

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