Fed keeps key interest rate unchanged

Janet Yellen
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, following an announcement that the Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate by quarter-point, heralding higher lending rates in an economy much sturdier than the one the Fed helped rescue in 2008. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is keeping a key interest rate unchanged while pledging to closely monitor developments in the global economy and financial markets.

The Fed says in its policy statement that economic growth has slowed since it raised rates from record lows in December. The changes in its statement signaled that the Fed could be prepared to slow future rate hikes if recent market turbulence and global weakness do not abate.

It repeated language age it used in December that it foresees gradual rate increases in the future.

Some economists have said they now expect just two slight rate increases during 2016.

The policymakers left their benchmark rate unchanged in a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent. Until December, they had kept that rate at record lows.

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