The Fed drops ‘considerable time’ language on near-zero percent interest rate, indicating a hike is coming

Fed officials signal they are preparing to hike interest rates even as oil prices have caused market turmoil

The Federal Reserve signaled that its first interest rate hike in eight years is approaching as policymakers stopped indicating that short-term rates would remain near zero

Instead, the Fed said in a statement that, with the economy “expanding at a moderate pace” and “solid job gains and a lower unemployment rate,” the central bank could “be patient in beginning to normalize” interest rates.

The wording change in the statement, which analysts had expected, indicates that the Fed plans to start raising its benchmark short-term interest rate in the next few months.

The Fed has kept the rate near zero since December 2008 in an effort to stimulate the economy.