The Federal Reserve holds interest rates steady, notes inflation is softer than expected

fed powellIn this March 20, 2019, file photo, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference in Washington.AP Photo/Susan Walsh

  • The Federal Reserve held borrowing costs steady Wednesday.
  • In a statement, it cited inflation levels that are below its 2% target.
  • Despite pressure from the White House, economists say a rate cut isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

The Federal Reserve left borrowing costs unchanged at the end of a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday as had been widely expected, with officials pointing to surprisingly soft inflation levels in an economy where growth remains solid.

Officials have signaled they would hold interest rates steady in a range of 2.25% and 2.5% for the rest of the year. They last voted to increase the benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point in December.

"In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes," the Fed said in a statement.

While the economy expanded far faster than expected in the first quarter, that pace of growth is expected to moderate in the coming months as activity slows in the US and elsewhere.

At a press conference shortly after the 2 p.m. ET announcement, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will likely be asked about consumer prices. Inflation readings have come in well below the central bank's target of 2%.

Wednesday's decision is unlikely to please President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly lambasted the Federal Reserve for its policy decisions. He and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow have been calling for a rate cut in recent days, arguing ahead of the 2020 elections that current interest rate levels hurt growth.

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