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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.

Go deeper

34 mins ago - Sports

U.S. swimmer Caeleb Dressel wins 50-meter freestyle final, sets new Olympic record

Caeleb Dressel during the men's 100m butterfly final at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Xavier Laine/Getty Images

American swimmer Caeleb Dressel won gold and set an Olympic record in the men's 50-meter freestyle on Saturday, beating his own world record that he set in 2020.

Details: Dressel didn't take a breath while in the pool to win the race in 21.07 seconds. France's Florent Manaudou won the silver medal, and Brazil’s Bruno Fratus bagged the bronze.

2 hours ago - Health

Florida records most new daily COVID cases in state since pandemic began

Nurses bring a portable x-ray machine to a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, set up to serve as an overflow area as the number of COVID-19 infections surges throughout Brevard County. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases — the most in the state in a single day since the pandemic began, per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The big picture: Florida is now the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, with the Delta variant driving a surge, Axios Tampa Bay's Ben Montgomery notes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans tested positive for COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC and state Covid dashboards. Dani Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, around 125,000 people have tested positive for breakthrough infections and 0.001% have died, according to state data compiled from state dashboards by NBC and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.