The Latest: Stocks lose ground after Fed hikes rates

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. The Federal Reserve has raised a key interest rate for the third time this year in response to a strong U.S. economy and signaled that it expects to maintain a pace of gradual rate hikes. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) –The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting (all times local):

4:00 p.m.

Stocks didn’t manage to hold on to their gains and closed lower on Wall Street, even after the Federal Reserve said the economy was on strong enough footing to take another interest rate increase.

The Fed, as expected, raised its benchmark rate by a quarter-point and indicated another increase this year is likely. The Fed raises rates when the economy is growing to keep inflation in check.

The S&P 500 slipped 9 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,905.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 106 points, or 0.4 percent, to 26,385. The Nasdaq lost 17 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,990.

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Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 3.05 percent from 3.10 percent a day earlier.

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3:20 p.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is downplaying the risk that higher mortgage rates were increasing costs for would-be homebuyers.

Powell cites the affordability index from the National Association of Realtors and tells reporters at a Wednesday news conference that homes are generally more affordable now than before the housing crisis.

The affordability index assumes a 20 percent down payment. Most first-time buyers put less than 20 percent down, increasing their costs, according to Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

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2:55 p.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that the several rounds of tariffs launched by the Trump administration have yet to hurt the U.S. economy’s performance.

But Powell tells reporters at a Wednesday news conference that the import taxes on steel, aluminum and goods from China could be bad for the economy if they stay in place a long time.

Powell says that businesses have told Fed officials that the tariffs have led to concerns about supply chains being disrupted and raw materials costing more.

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2:50 p.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says that Fed policymakers’ decisions haven’t been affected by political considerations.

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President Donald Trump expressed concern last month with the Fed’s rate hikes, which could slow the economy and raise unemployment.

“My colleagues and I are focused exclusively” on the Fed’s mission to maintain low unemployment and stable inflation, Powell said during a press conference.

“We don’t consider political factors. That’s who we are, that’s what we do and that’s the way it’s always been for us,” Powell added.

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2:45 p.m.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the U.S. central bank didn’t change its policy outlook by removing language from its Wednesday statement about being “accommodative” by setting rates to boost job growth and bring inflation to the 2 percent target.

Powell says that eliminating this language from a statement after Fed officials ended a two-day meeting on Wednesday doesn’t signal a change in policy, even though the change suggests that the Fed will keep hiking rates.

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2:30 p.m.

Stocks added slightly to their gains in afternoon trading after the Federal Reserve nudged its benchmark short-term interest rate higher.

The Fed’s latest quarter-point rate hike, its third this year, was widely expected by investors. The Fed raises rates to keep inflation in check.

The S&P 500 index was up 12 points, or 0.4 percent, at 2,927 about half an hour after the Fed’s announcement. It was up 7 points, or 0.3 percent, just before the announcement.

Fed policymakers said they still expect to make a fourth interest rate increase this year, and three more next year.

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Bond yields didn’t move much following the announcement.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which is used to set rates on mortgages, stood at 3.08 percent, down from 3.10 percent a day earlier.

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2:05 p.m.

Federal Reserve policymakers expect to hike rates one more time this year, three times next year and only once in 2020, the same as they forecast in June, according to projections released Wednesday after a two-day meeting.

Fed officials also foresee faster growth this year, at 3.1 percent, up from an estimate of 2.8 percent three months earlier.

September’s figures also included their first projections for 2021. Fed policymakers expect growth will slow to 1.8 percent that year and the unemployment rate will rise to 3.7 percent, from 3.5 percent the previous year. That would be consistent with the Fed’s rate hikes slowing growth to forestall inflation. It sees price increases remaining in check, rising 2.1 percent over the next three years.

The Fed releases economic and interest rate forecasts every three months.

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2:00 p.m.

Federal Reserve officials voted Wednesday to raise a key, short term interest rate for the third time this year.

Investors largely expected an increase in the federal funds rate — the interest that banks charge each other — based off public statements by Fed officials. The fed funds rate was increased to a range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent, up from a level of near-zero between the end of 2008 and late 2015.

The higher range points to an improving U.S. economy with inflation staying near the Fed’s target of 2 percent. The vote to raise rates was 9 to 0.

In their statement announcing the decision, Fed officials removed a sentence in prior statements that said its interest rate policy was supporting a strong job market and a return to 2 percent inflation. By eliminating that statement, they’re suggesting that those goals are now within reach and that rate hikes will likely continue.

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10:45 a.m.

Financial markets held steady Wednesday as investors waited for the Federal Reserve’s latest decision on interest rate policy.

The Fed was widely expected to make the third increase this year in its benchmark short-term interest rate.

Investors will be closely watching to see what the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell say about what’s coming next. Another increase is expected in December, with more to follow next year.

Rates are still low, but investors worry a quick jump would unsettle markets and halt what’s become the longest bull market for U.S. stocks on record.

Major U.S. stock indexes were slightly higher in morning trading, and Treasury yields were slightly lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 3.09 percent from 3.10 percent a day earlier.

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4:55 a.m.

Financial markets are subdued as investors look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, at which it is expected to raise its main interest rate for the third time this year.

Stock markets are mixed, with Wall Street futures up a modest 0.2 percent, ahead of the meeting. The dollar is steady against major currencies like the euro and yen.

The Fed is expected to lift its key rate on Wednesday from a range of 1.75-2 percent to a still-low 2-2.25 percent. The move reflects the U.S. economy’s resilient expansion amid tax cuts and government spending. There are questions, however, whether the trade dispute could hurt the outlook.

Investors will keep an eye on a news conference by Chairman Jerome Powell for more clues to the Fed’s views.

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4:45 a.m.

The Federal Reserve is set Wednesday to raise interest rates for a third time this year and possibly modify the likely direction of rates in the months ahead.

The big question is whether the strong U.S. economy, which has been fueled this year by tax cuts and increased government spending, could weaken next year, especially if President Donald Trump’s trade fights begin to inflict damage and the benefits of tax cuts start to fade.

If the Fed finds that prospect likely, it might signal Wednesday that it expects to slow its rate increases next year.

The Fed’s key short-term rate now stands in a range of 1.75-2 percent after two quarter-point increases in March and June. A similar rate hike Wednesday would raise that range to a still-low 2-2.25 percent.

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