WASHINGTON – Dec. 13, 2017 – The Federal Reserve is raising its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year, signaling its confidence that the U.S. economy remains on solid footing 8 1/2 years after the end of the Great Recession.

The Fed is lifting its short-term rate by a modest quarter-point to a still-low range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent. It is also continuing to slowly shrink its bond portfolio. Together, the two steps could lead over time to higher loan rates for consumers and businesses and slightly better returns for savers.

The central bank says it expects the job market and the economy to strengthen further. Partly as a result, it foresees three additional rate hikes in 2018 under the leadership of Jerome Powell, who succeeds Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair in February.

© 2017 The Canadian Press, Martin Crutsinger