Fed leaves US rates unchanged

US CENTRAL bank policy makers yesterday kept borrowing costs unchanged, signalling that they saw little chance that inflation will accelerate. The Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve left the overnight bank lending rate at 4.75 per cent, and announced no change in its so-called bias, suggesting it remains neutral on likely rate movements rather than leaning towards higher rates.

The US economy expanded at an annual rate of 6.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 1998, the fastest growth rate recorded in the past 15 years. Even so, consumer prices rose by only 0.1 per cent in the quarter and by 1.6 per cent over a year.