Fed holds interest rates unchanged

Open Market Committee says it is "monitoring developments abroad"

The Federal Reserve announced Thursday that it would maintain interest rates near zero, as Fed officials continue to assess how the U.S. economy is being affected by a slowdown in global economic growth and tighter financial conditions.

“Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term,” the Fed said in a statement.

“The Committee continues to see the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as nearly balanced but is monitoring developments abroad,” it added. The Fed provided no timeline for the first rate increase, though many Fed officials reportedly expect the central bank will take some action before the end of this year.

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Any increase in rates could test momentum in the housing market, with low mortgage rates having helped home prices rebound in wake of the 2008 financial crisis. — Hiten Samtani