The US Federal Reserve laid out target levels on unemployment and inflation for raising interest rates for the first time Wednesday, surprising analysts who expected such a move would wait until next year.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks in Washington November 27, 2012. The Federal Reserve launched a new bond-buying "QE" program to replace the expiring Operation Twist and set unemployment and inflation triggers for raising its ultra-low interest rates.
In an effort to better signal its policy path, after its benchmark rate has been locked at 0-0.25 percent for four years, the Fed said it would not lift rates as long as the inflation outlook was below 2.5 percent and the jobless rate, now at 7.7 percent, stays above 6.5 percent.
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