(2nd LD) U.S. Fed keeps key lending rate unchanged for 4th straight time

The U.S. Federal Reserve held its benchmark lending rate steady for a fourth consecutive time during a monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, amid expectations that it would start lowering rates later this year. After the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, the central bank announced its decision to keep the rate between 5.25 and 5.50 percent. It has maintained the rate at the current level since its freeze in September. The latest decision put the gap between the key rates of South Korea and the United States at up to 2 percentage points. Reiterating its inflation target, the bank stressed, "The committee does not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent." Asked to elaborate on the mention of the need for "greater confidence," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell stressed that the central bank is looking for "more good data" to believe that inflation is on a sustainable track toward its ta rget. "We do have confidence ... but we want to get greater confidence," he said. "What do we want to see? We want to see more good data. It is not that we are looking for better data ... We are looking (for) the continuation of good data that we have been seeing." Following the previous rate-setting meeting in December, Powell said the policy rate was likely at or near its peak for the tightening cycle -- remarks that indicated the Fed would pivot away from its rate hiking campaign launched in March 2022 to cool inflation. Source: Yonhap News Agency