Fed watchers seek hints about future rates amid likely hike

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve will surprise no one if it does Wednesday what it seems poised to do for a third time this year: Raise its key short-term interest rate by a modest quarter-point to help keep inflation in check — and hint that another hike is likely in December.

What Fed watchers will really be seeking is any sign of whether the central bank might slow its rate hikes in the months ahead. Many analysts expect the economy to weaken next year, in part from the effects of the trade conflicts President Donald Trump has pursued with China, Canada and Europe.

An economic slowdown would likely lead the Fed to throttle back on its rate increases to avoid stifling growth.

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