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Federal Reserve holds key US rate unchanged

The Federal Reserve kept its benchmark federal funds interest rate unchanged at near-zero percent as expected Wednesday, providing no fresh hints on when a long-awaited rate rise might come. The Federal Open Market Committee said the US economy had expanded “moderately” in recent months and the jobs market had strengthened, but noted continued “soft” business investment and exports. It also said that inflation remained softer than monetary policy makers want to see, though noting that much of the weakness is related to the plunge in energy prices over the past year and to cheaper imports, thanks to the strong dollar.

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