US RATES HIKE 'EXPECTED BY THE END OF THE YEAR'
The Fed said US economic activity had picked up and job gains were "solid" in recent months. The US central bank said it saw near-term risks to the economy as "roughly balanced." It was the first time it has used that wording since late last year, when it most recently raised rates. The Federal Open Market Committee had decided against raising rates "for the time being," until there was more evidence of progress towards its employment and inflation objectives. The committee said it expects inflation to remain low in the near term, "in part because of earlier declines in energy prices", but that it would rise to the Fed's 2% target over the medium term.