Fed chairman Jerome Powell. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As expected, the Federal Reserve said it would hold off on raising interest rates and signaled that the central bank will not raise interest rates any time this year.

Why it matters: The Fed has backed off its hawkish interest rate hike plans seen as recently as late last year, amid concerns that "growth of economic activity has slowed from its solid rate in the fourth quarter," officials said in the policy statement released on Wednesday.

  • In a separate release, the Fed said it would stop shrinking the multitrillion-dollar balance sheet it amassed during the financial crisis by the end of September. Fed chair Jerome Powell told reporters during a news conference that the final size of the balance sheet would be "a bit above" $3.5 trillion from a peak of $4.5 trillion.
  • Balance sheet shrinkage was widely blamed for the stock market volatility seen at the end of last year.

Details:

  • Fed officials also ratcheted down expectations for economic growth, saying GDP would come in at 2.1% this year versus the 2.9% projected at December's Fed meeting.
  • Their projections for unemployment this year were higher at 3.7% from the 3.5% they anticipated in December.

Between the lines: Powell maintains that the Fed is an apolitical institution and hasn't been swayed by the president's unprecedented criticism of the central bank. However, Trump did get everything he asked for: a stoppage on interest rate hikes and the end of the balance sheet runoff.

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House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony

Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday released the transcript of its closed-door interview with Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was forced out by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.

Why it matters: House Democrats have seized on Berman's testimony, in which he claimed the attorney general sought to "entice" him into resigning so that he could be replaced by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, to bolster allegations that the Justice Department has been politicized under Barr.