Fed plans to raise rates starting in March to cool inflation

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it will likely begin a series of interest-rate hikes in March. That would reverse pandemic-era low-rate policies that have fueled hiring and growth — and stock market gains — but also high inflation. Chair Jerome Powell said at a news conference that inflation has gotten “slightly worse” since the Fed last met in December. He said raising the Fed’s benchmark rate, which has been pegged at zero since March 2020, will help prevent high prices from becoming entrenched. Powell said the central bank can manage the process in a way that prolongs economic growth and keeps unemployment low.