U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference in Washington D.C. Air Vapormax Plus Triple White , the United States, on Dec. 13, 2017. The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points, the third such increase in 2017. (XinhuaYin Bogu)
WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points, the third such increase in 2017.
"In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the (Federal Open Market) Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.25 to 1.5 percent," said the Fed in a statement after concluding a two-day monetary policy meeting.
The central bank officials still envisioned three more rate hikes in 2018, unchanged from their forecast in September, according to the latest quarterly projections released on Wednesday.
Fed officials continued to hold upbeat assessment of the overall economy and job market and remained concerned over the soft inflation reading.
"Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in November indicates that the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a solid rate," said the statement.
According to officials' forecast, the U.S. economy will grow 2.5 percent both in 2017 and 2018, higher than their forecasts in September which projected a 2.4 percent growth for 2017 and 2.1 percent increase for 2018.
In view of recent solid job growth, Fed officials expected the unemployment rate will maintain at 4.1 percent by the end of 2017, lower than September's forecast of 4.3 percent.
The jobless rate will further drop to 3.9 percent in 2018.
However, it pointed out the declines of overall and core inflation indexes this year and reiterated that it is monitoring inflation developments closely.
Fed officials slightly revised up their forecast for inflation in 2017 to 1.7 percent from September's projection of 1.6 percent.
Due to the soft inflation reading, presidents of Chicago Fed and Minneapolis Fed voted against the decision, arguing that the central bank should keep interest rate unchanged at this meeting.
MANILA, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- At least four people were killed when a ferry carrying 251 passengers and crew sank off Quezon province in heavy waves on Thursday, but majority of those on board were rescued, authorities said.
In an official statement, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said 240 passengers were rescued several hours after the ferry boat sank five nautical miles off Infanta town in Quezon province, southeast of Manila.
The PCG said seven more passengers remain missing.
The passenger ferry left the Ungos port in Real town around 9 a.m. local time and was en route to Polillo Island when it sank around 11:27 a.m. local time, said the PCG.
The vessel has a gross tonnage of 206.27, net tonnage of 61.88 and capacity of up to 286 passengers.
The cause of the disaster is not known, the PCG said.
"As of press time, the PCG is focusing on the search and rescue operations and will immediately conduct investigations to identify the cause of the incident and to verify possible oil spills," the PCG said.
But a survivor, Donel Jade Mendiola, told a local radio that the ferry was hit by strong wind and huge waves a couple of hours before it sank.
Ferry accidents are not rare in the Philippines, an archipelago of 7,100 islands with a poor record for maritime safety.
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