Fed Officials Keep End-2015 Median Fed Funds Forecast at 0.625%

Fed on Track to Raise Rates This Year

Federal Reserve officials maintained their forecast for the benchmark interest rate at the end of this year while cutting it for 2016.

The federal funds rate will be 0.625 percent at the end of 2015, according to the median estimate in the Federal Open Market Committee’s quarterly Summary of Economic Projections, released in Washington on Wednesday. That’s unchanged from the March estimate and implies two rate increases this year, assuming officials move in quarter-point increments.

The median estimate for the end of 2016 fell to 1.625 percent, compared with 1.875 percent forecast in March. The rate has been held at a range of between zero and 0.25 percent since December 2008. Fifteen officials predict liftoff this year, while two expect it to occur next year, the same as in March.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen will offer more detail on the outlook at her press conference at 2:30 p.m. in Washington.

Economic growth in 2015 will range from 1.8 percent to 2 percent, compared with 2.3 percent to 2.7 percent in the last round of forecasts in March. The forecasts are so-called central tendency estimates, which exclude the three highest and three lowest projections.

The unemployment rate by year-end will be 5.2 percent to 5.3 percent, Fed officials said, and 4.9 percent to 5.1 percent by the end of 2016. In March, the forecast range was 5 percent to 5.2 percent for this year and 4.9 percent to 5.1 percent next year.

Consumer prices, as measured by the personal consumption expenditures index, will increase this year by 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent, officials projected, unchanged from the range projected in March. The Fed aims for 2 percent inflation.

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