(Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(CNN) -- The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it will pause its interest rate hikes, keeping its benchmark lending rate at a 22-year high.

The move was widely expected, after the U.S. central bank signaled in recent weeks that it intended to wait for more data to understand how previous rate hikes are affecting the U.S. economy.

Since March 2022, the Fed has raised interest rates 11 times and held them steady twice, including the September pause.

Fed officials expect fewer rate cuts in 2024

The Fed's latest set of economic projections showed most central bank officials now expect fewer rate cuts next year than they estimated in June.

In previous projections, most officials expected the central bank's benchmark lending rate to peak in a range of 4.38-4.62% in 2024. In Wednesday's updated estimates, most officials now expect the Fed's key interest rate to end somewhere between 4.88% and 5.62%. This indicates that there will be fewer cuts and that rates could remain elevated for longer than anticipated.


The Federal Reserve won't unnecessarily keep rates at a specific level, but it wants to see inflation brought under control before cutting them.

A sharp economic downturn that triggers unemployment could also prompt the Fed to cut rates, as it also has a mandate to ensure maximum employment.

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