Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged Wednesday at the end of its two-day policy meeting, saying it expects gradual increases in the future.
The Fed said it left benchmark rates at 1.75 percent to 2 percent, citing strengthening labor market conditions and inflation near 2 percent.
In its last meeting, in June, the Federal Open Market Committee raised the rates by 0.25 percent, citing job gains, declining unemployment and stronger inflation. Last month, the Fed indicated it expected four rate hikes this year. It's raised the rates twice so far this year.
"Job gains have been strong, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has stayed low. Household spending and business fixed investment have grown strongly," the FOMC said in a statement.
"The United States should not be penalized because we are doing so well. Tightening now hurts all that we have done. The U.S. should be allowed to recapture what was lost due to illegal currency manipulation and BAD Trade Deals," he said July 20, breaking with recent tradition for presidents not to criticize Fed actions.