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Analysts, consumers await Federal Reserve's moves during 2-day meet

By Doug G. Ware
Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Wednesday began a two-day meeting of the U.S. central bank, which could raise short-term interest rates for the first time since 2008. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/528cbb03c4cad0ab8279f0234243de23/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen on Wednesday began a two-day meeting of the U.S. central bank, which could raise short-term interest rates for the first time since 2008. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- The United States' central bank on Wednesday began a two-day meeting that could possibly see short-term interest rates increase for the first time in nearly a decade.

The Federal Reserve is meeting to discuss raising the rates, which have remained near zero since the height of the financial crisis in 2008, along with several other policy issues.

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Even if the Fed raises rates, analysts say the immediate impact will be minimal because they will likely only increase by a fraction of a percentage.

"Chair [Janet] Yellen will almost surely accompany the announcement of any rate increase with a statement that future rate increases will happen very gradually as well," Boston College economics professor Peter Ireland said in a report by ABC News.

RELATED Federal Reserve Chair Yellen says U.S. on path to interest rate hike this year

Bank fees are another element the Federal Reserve is expected to address. A hike in the federal funds rate would make it more expensive for banks to borrow money -- which will almost certainly be passed onto customers in the form of higher transaction fees.

Mortgage and auto rates and returns on savings accounts are other issues that could be affected by the Fed's two-day meeting.

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Even if the Federal Reserve leaves interest rates alone, analysts expect they will be increased at some point this year. Many believe the economy is strong enough to withstand a rate hike now, and the impact on consumers would be minimal.

"It's not likely to make or break a decision for most, especially with interest rates as low as they are right now," economic professor James DeVault said.

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