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Fed set to keep rates unchanged, may nod to ebbing risks

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen holds a press conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting in Washington March 16, 2016.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to keep interest rates unchanged on Wednesday as it continues to monitor the impact from weakening global growth but may seek to signal to markets it is determined to resume policy tightening this year.

The Fed has held its overnight lending rate for banks at a target range of between 0.25 and 0.50 percent since it lifted the benchmark interest rate for the first time in a decade from near zero last December.

Since then the Fed has signaled more caution, despite the U.S. economy's relative strength, as concerns a slowing China would depress global growth sparked steep stock price declines and tighter financial market conditions early in the year.

The latest Fed policy decision statement is due to be released at 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is not scheduled to hold a press conference.

Markets have turned up since the last rate decision in March. The S&P 500 [.SPX] has risen more than 14 percent since mid-February. China's economy has also shown more positive signs, growing at a 6.7 percent pace in the first quarter.

A Reuters poll of more than 80 economists showed...


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