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In its quarterly forecasts, Fed officials project the benchmark interest rate will end this year at 2.1 percent after two more hikes, unchanged from the December forecast, but will rise to 2.9 percent at the close of 2019, signalling three possible hikes.

"The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months", the Fed said in a statement following its two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

The statement says "economic activity will expand at a moderate pace in the medium term and labor market conditions will remain strong".

Facebook shares have lost about 9 percent in just two days, and hurt shares of other social media companies such as Twitter and Snap Inc as the issue raised broader questions about consumer privacy and whether tougher regulation is on the horizon. ARM rates are modified annually, so a 0.25 percentage point increase in the rate in March wouldn't have an immediate effect.

But the Fed's new forecast does envision marked increases in economic growth compared with its previous estimate: It raises the estimate to 2.7 percent growth this year, up from 2.5 percent in the December projection, and 2.4 percent in 2019, up from 2.1 percent. It is the sixth increase since December 2015, when it began raising rates from rock-bottom levels.

The central bank is trying to balance a low unemployment rate with the potential for higher inflation. Contrary to many analysts' expectations, they did not change their forecast of three rate hikes this year. A sharp rise in wage growth reported in the government's January jobs report triggered fears that higher labour costs would lead to higher inflation and, ultimately, to higher interest rates.

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Sunday at a bar called The Dog House, officials said. - The Bermuda Police Service is searching for a missing 19-year-old St. The mother of an American college student reported missing in Bermuda is appealing for the public's help in finding her son.

Lael Brainard, a Fed governor who has been less hawkish than many of her colleagues, said in a speech this month that in many ways, "today is the mirror image of the environment we confronted a couple of years ago".

BNP Paribas Asset Management senior economist Steven Friedman said before the announcement that while he expects four rate hikes this year, he doesn't expect the SEP to reflect that until the next release, in June, "when there should be additional evidence of firming inflation as well as additional downward pressure on the unemployment rate". However, it disappointed currency traders who had bet it was prepared to raise rates perhaps four times this year as the jobs market approaches full employment.

The average rate on a five-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages is now about 3.67 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

Mr Powell said some Fed members are anxious about the possibility of a trade war, referencing conversations between central bankers and business leaders. But a recent $1.5 trillion tax cut and $300 billion spending bill, along with an improved economic outlook, have more recently changed that calculus.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 5/32 in price to yield 2.8996 percent, from 2.881 percent late on Tuesday. The Fed is also watching for signs that inflation is coming closer to the central bank's target of 2%.

In its first policy meeting under new Fed chief Jerome Powell, the United States central bank indicated that inflation should finally move higher after years below its two per cent target and that the economy had recently gained momentum.