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Federal Reserve officials raised interest rates for a third time this year and reaffirmed their outlook for further gradual hikes well into 2019, risking fresh criticism from President Donald Trump. The quarter-point increase boosted the benchmark federal funds rate to a target range of 2 percent to 2.25 percent. After eight hikes since late 2015, the fed funds rate is now at the highest level since October 2008, just after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.The committee, enlarged to 16 by the recent addition of new Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, continued to anticipate three hikes in 2019, according to the median estimate.It was the first time since this round of rate increases began in late 2015 that the Fed hasn't described policy as "accommodative".The location of a neutral rate for policy is the subject of heated debate, with estimates within the committee ranging from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.
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