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The US Federal Reserve has defied Donald Trump to raise interest rates for the fourth time this year – but signalled fewer increases in 2019.

Wall Street shares fell sharply as – despite the rate rise being widely expected – investors had been hoping for a more "dovish" forecast about future rises.

America's central bank resisted pressure from the US president – who has tweeted repeatedly about his opposition to the rise – as it lifted its benchmark rate to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%.

Fed chairman Jerome Powell – who was picked by Mr Trump for the role at the start of this year – said politics "play no role whatsoever" in the bank's decision making.

The hike will mean higher borrowing costs for many consumers and businesses.

But the Fed signalled just two more next year, down from a previous forecast pencilling in three – as policy makers weigh the impact of financial market volatility and slowing global growth.

It is now forecasting US economic growth of 2.3% next year, down from an earlier estimate of 2.5%, and also sees the unemployment rate rising slightly more quickly.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average erased earlier gains to turn close 352 points, or 1.5%, lower on the day.

The hike comes a day after Mr Trump urged the Fed not to "make yet another mistake", while on Monday he said it was "incredible that with a very strong dollar and virtually no inflation, the outside world blowing up around us… the Fed is even considering yet another rate hike".

Interest rates in the US, the world's biggest economy, were slashed to nearly zero during the financial crisis but have gradually been rising since 2015.

Ultra-low rates were used by central banks across the world during the crisis to try to aid economic recovery but policy makers in the US are returning them to a more normal level as they focus on keeping a lid on inflationary pressures.

The Fed said on Wednesday that the US economy has been growing at a strong rate and the jobs market had continued to improve.

However, there are fears that conditions could turn tougher next year as the fiscal boost from Mr Trump's spending and tax cut package fades and the global economy slows.

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Alongside the rate rise, Mr Powell also said the central bank would keep reducing its holdings of trillions of dollars worth of government bonds which were purchased as a further element of crisis-era stimulus.

The Fed is currently cutting the holdings at the rate of $50bn a month – a policy that, like its rate rises, has been criticised by the US president.

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