The Latest: Markets steady ahead of Fed rate announcement

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

4:50 a.m.

Financial markets are steady as investors look ahead to an expected interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve later Wednesday.

Dow and S&P 500 futures are flat and European indexes are mixed. Britain’s FTSE 100 is down 0.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 is 0.2 percent higher.

While traders widely expect the quarter point rate increase, they will be paying close attention to a news conference by Fed Chair Jerome Powell for hints on whether the central bank might accelerate the pace of rate hikes in coming months.

The U.S. economy is adding jobs at a strong pace and inflation has risen, leading some economists to think that the Fed will indicate that it may raise rates four times this year, up from its current forecast of three hikes.

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12:05 a.m.

The Federal Reserve is set to modestly raise its key short-term interest rate on Wednesday for the second time this year. But attention will be focused mainly on any hints that the Fed might accelerate its rate hikes in the coming months.

Some economists think the Fed will signal that it expects to raise rates four times this year, up from its current projection of three hikes. Others believe the central bank will stick with its projection of three rate increases, partly out of concern that rising trade tensions triggered by President Donald Trump’s aggressive policies might slow global growth.

The policymakers will reveal their action in a policy statement and in updated economic forecasts, followed by a news conference by Chairman Jerome Powell.

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