The Federal Reserve will announce its first interest rate decision of the year this afternoon.
The central bank is expected to raise its short-term interest rate by a quarter percentage point, a slowing of last year's aggressive pace of hikes. It would be the eighth increase since the Fed began its tightening cycle in March 2022. The ratcheting back of rates comes as painful price increases ease in the U.S., with annual inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index declining for the sixth consecutive month in December to 6.5%.
The Fed hasn't raised interest rates by a quarter percentage point since March 2022 . Traditionally the Fed raises interest rates by quarter percentage point increments, but persistently high inflation pushed it to act more aggressively.
Over the course of 2022, the Fed passed four 75-basis-point rate hikes. Rate hikes of that magnitude hadn't previously occurred since 1994. The Fed's cumulative rate hikes last year raised the benchmark federal-funds rate by 4.25%.
At this time last year, economists questioned why the Fed didn't start raising interest rates. But now they're wondering when the Fed will stop as it walks a shaky tightrope between lowering inflation to its 2% target and pushing the economy into recession.
Follow along for live coverage leading up to the rate hike decision and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's news conference.
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What time will Fed announce rate hike?
The Fed's decision on interest rates comes out at 2 p.m. ET.
When is Powell speaking?
The Fed Chairman's news conference will begin 30 minutes after the rate decision is announced at 2:30 p.m. ET.
The Fed's decision today is largely going to be influenced by inflation.
Inflation is when prices for goods and services rise across the board. If, for instance, gas prices go up a lot but overall prices remain stable the economy would not be experiencing inflation.
Is inflation going down?
The two main U.S. inflation measures, the Consumer Price Index and the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, are easing.
The latest CPI report found prices for goods and services were 6.5% higher than a year ago. That's a sizeable improvement from June when annual inflation was over 9%. On a monthly basis, consumer prices fell by 0.1% in December, the first decline since May 2020.
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Futures traded for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down ahead of the opening bell.
When is the next Fed meeting?
The Fed's next meeting is from March 21 to 22.
Fed 2023 meeting schedule
Here are the remaining meetings for the year:
Elisabeth Buchwald is a personal finance and markets correspondent for USA TODAY. You can follow her on Twitter @BuchElisabeth and sign up for our Daily Money newsletter here
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fed meeting today: Live updates on next interest rate hike decision
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