What a Fed rate hike means for your personal finances



By Ben Steverman

Maybe this time higher interest rates actually mean higher interest rates.

A year ago, the Federal Reserve lifted the key U.S. interest rate for the first time in more than nine years. Counterintuitively, mortgage rates then fell, and homebuyers had one more chance to refinance at historically low rates.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen tried again Wednesday. The Fed’s Open Market Committee decided unanimously to raise rates for the first time since July. The move brings the target for the federal funds rate — the overnight lending rate between banks — to a range of 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent.

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