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Fed holds rates steady

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

The Federal Open Markets Committee kept the federal funds rate unchanged at its two-day meeting that concluded Thursday, as expected.

At its last meeting in September, the FOMC, for the third time this year, raised the target range for the federal funds rate a quarter-point, to 2% to 2.25%.

In a statement Thursday, the Fed said the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a strong rate since its last meeting. "Job gains have been strong, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has declined," the Fed said. "Household spending has continued to grow strongly, while growth of business fixed investment has moderated from its rapid pace earlier in the year."

Inflation also has remained near the Fed's 2% target.

In September, FOMC members projected, on average, the federal funds rate to rise to 2.4% by the end of 2018, 3.1% by the end of 2019 and 3.4% by the end of 2020. The Fed is expected to raise rates once more at its final meeting of 2018 on Dec. 18-19.

In a statement Thursday, Rick Rieder, BlackRock (BLK)'s chief investment officer of global fixed income, said he'll be watching the December meeting closely. "Ultimately, we think the Fed is in the process of adjusting its thinking on the path of policy rates going forward, which should make the December statement and subsequent press conference potentially very interesting and market-moving," he said.