Federal Reserve officials voted Wednesday to raise a key, short term interest rate for the third time this year, the AP reports. Investors largely expected an increase in the federal funds rate—the interest that banks charge each other—based off public statements by Fed officials. The benchmark overnight lending rate was increased by a quarter of a percentage point, to a range of 2% to 2.25%, Reuters reports. That's up from a level of near-zero between the end of 2008 and late 2015. The higher range points to an improving US economy with inflation staying near the Fed's target of 2%. The vote to raise rates was 9 to 0.
In their statement announcing the decision and marking the end of the "accommodative" monetary policy era, Fed officials removed a sentence in prior statements that said its interest rate policy was supporting a strong job market and a return to 2% inflation. By eliminating that statement, they're suggesting that those goals are now within reach and that rate hikes will likely continue, per the AP. Federal Reserve policymakers expect to hike rates one more time this year, three times next year, and only once in 2020, the same as they forecast in June. That would put the rate at 3.4% by 2020, about half a percentage point above the estimated "neutral" rate at which interest rates don't restrict or stimulate the economy. (Read more Federal Reserve stories.)