The Federal Reserve left the federal funds rate at 5.25 percent Tuesday, saying that inflation pressures seem likely to moderate over time in part because of a “substantial cooling of the housing market.”
It was the first time the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee used the word “substantial” to describe the current housing slowdown.
“Readings on core inflation have been elevated, and the high level of resource utilization has the potential to sustain inflation pressures,” the Committee said in a statement explaining its decision to keep the key short-term interest rate unchanged. The decision keeps the prime lending rate offered by banks at 8.25 percent.
Inflation pressures “seem likely to moderate over time, reflecting reduced impetus from energy prices, contained inflation expectations, and the cumulative effects of monetary policy actions and other factors restraining aggregate demand,” the Committee’s statement said.
The Committee had raised interest rates by 25 basis points, or .25 percent, at 17 consecutive meetings ending in June, to keep inflation in check. As he has done at the four meetings since the Fed stopped raising the federal funds rate in August, Jeffrey M. Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, expressed his preference for a 25-basis-point increase by voting not to leave the rate unchanged.
The Committee reiterated previous warnings that interest-rate hikes could resume if signs of inflation become more pronounced.