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The Federal Reserve unanimously voted to leave the benchmark Fed Funds rate in a range of 5.25% to 5.5%, the highest since 2001, for a fifth straight meeting.

They left their projections in the quarterly Dot Plot for the Fed Funds rate by the end of 2024 at 4.6%. That was the same projection as in the December Dot Plot.

And nothing in either the post-meeting press statement or in Fed chair Jerome Powell’s press remarks changed the timing on when the Fed will make its first interest rate cut. May is very unlikely given the Fed’s emphasis on wanting to be sure that inflation is locked into a drop to the Fed’s 2% target before beginning to cut rates. June is possible. July seems likely.

You have to dig really deep into the Dot Plot projections to find anything that could be called news.

The Fed did raise its March projection for growth in the U.S. economy to a 2.1% increase in GDP for 2024 from a projected 1.9% in the December projections. The central bank raised its growth projections for 2025 to 2.0% from 1.8% and for 2026 to 2.0% from 1.9%. Not exactly enough of a change to move financial markets.

Th Fed slightly lowered its projections for core PCE inflation to 2.4% by the end of 2024 from December’s projection of 2.6%. The unemployment rate was projected at 4.0% at the end of 2024 instead of 4.1% in the December Dot Plot.

About as exciting as watching pain dry. Although good news for anyone hoping for a strong but not too strong and very stable economy.

The biggest change I would find in the Dot Plot from December to March was a slight delay in projections for bringing down interest rates after 2024. In the March projections the Fed sees its benchmark interest rate falling to 3.9% by the end of 2025 from a projected 4.6% by the end of 2024. The March projection of 3.9% for the end of 2025, however, is higher than the 3.6% rate in the December Dot Plot. Similarly, the March Dot Plot sees the benchmark interest rate at 3.1% versus the December projection of 2.9%.

I don’t think that shifts of a tenth or two tenths of a percentage point in a projection 2 years away does much to shift market sentiment or change investing decisions. If these tiny changes become a trend, however, it’s a different ball game. Something to watch.

Next big excitement–assuming Congress doesn’t shut down the government for a significant amount of time beginning this weekend–will be first quarter earnings reports at the middle of April.