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Fed leaves interest rates unchanged

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Fed leaves rates unchanged

With Wall Street looking for any clues that tighter policy is coming, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday declined to raise interest rates or provide any clues about when a hike is on the way.

In a move widely expected on Wall Street, the U.S. central bank's Open Market Committee kept its key funds rate near zero. There had been some anticipation the FOMC would provide at least few code words indicating that it was ready to move, but there was scant evidence in the post-meeting statement.

Market reaction was generally positive though not decisively so.

"On the margins it was very upbeat on the economy, much more so than I think is warranted—a little too liberal with the use of the term 'transitory' with respect to commodity prices," said Greg Peters, senior investment officer at Prudential Fixed Income. "I viewed it as slightly more hawkish than anything else."

The Fed characterized economic growth as moderate but said inflation indicators "remain low." The committee noted that "business fixed investment and net exports stayed soft." However, the FOMC characterized job gains as "solid," something the market interpreted as perhaps hawkish for the future of rate hikes and keeping September in play for a move.

"The Fed did not put itself in a position where it had to hike at the next meeting," Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG, said in a note. "There is plenty of time between now and the September meeting for FOMC officials to prepare markets for a September hike."

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