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Fed minutes: Some saw December rate hike as 'close call'

WASHINGTON -- Even though the Federal Reserve voted unanimously to raise a key interest rate last month, some policymakers viewed their decision as a "close call" given on-going concerns about stubbornly low inflation.

Minutes of the Fed's last meeting showed that Fed officials believe that going forward, economic conditions will likely justify "only gradual increases" in its benchmark rate, which had been at a record low near zero for the past seven years.

The Fed boosted the rate by a quarter point to a new range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent in December.

Policymakers said they were "reasonably confident" that inflation would eventually move to the Fed's 2 percent target. At the time, they expressed significant concerns that it may stay weak, especially because of further declines in oil prices recently.

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