With financial markets anticipating a rate hike before the end of the year, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday held interest rates steady again, while continuing to acknowledge that the case for a move is getting stronger.
Federal Open Market Committee officials, however, made no direct nod to a coming rate increase at the December meeting, a move that the market is strongly anticipating. In fact, the dovish FOMC majority gained a vote.
In lieu of a rate hike, the group released a statement acknowledging economic improvements that aren't yet enough to generate a policy tightening.
"The committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has continued to strengthen but decided, for the time being, to wait for some further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives," the FOMC said in a statement released at the conclusion of its two-day meeting.
Similar language appeared in the September statement, though that statement said the case "has strengthened" rather than this month's "continued to strengthen" phrasing. The word "some" also was missing in September.
"They punted because of the growing uncertainty around the U.S. election," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. "The Fed wanted to take a bit of a backseat, and this fairly benign change in their statement reflects their conservative nature."
"During the election, the Fed, particularly through the comments from (Donald) Trump, has been made a little bit of a political chess piece," he added. "It wasn't the primary reason for their decision today, but I certainly believe that they didn't want to rock the boat."
One notable change that did happen was the committee lost one of its dissenters.