interest rates

Updated at 1:08 p.m. ET

A major credit rating agency is warning that it will reconsider the nation's AAA rating if the partial U.S. government shutdown continues into March and raises doubts about the ability of Congress to lift the debt ceiling.

A downgrade of the nation's pristine credit rating could lead to higher borrowing costs for the U.S. Treasury, companies and consumers.

Updated at 4:03 p.m. ET

Despite enormous pressure from President Trump, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced Wednesday it is increasing interest rates by a quarter point.

The Fed said in a statement it is raising the key borrowing rate to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.50 percent — the highest level in a decade, when the economy was in the early stages of the financial crisis and the beginning of the Great Recession. The Dow ended the day down 352 points, or 1.5 percent, after the Fed announcement. The index was up nearly 300 points earlier.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

For the third time this year and the fifth time since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates another quarter of a point.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday announced liftoff for short-term interest rates — a launch that may send many borrowing costs higher in 2016.

The 0.25-percentage-point increase — to a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent — in the federal funds rate was small but important because it signals the beginning of the end of easy money; the Fed wants to get back to normal after years of fighting economic stagnation with supercheap loans.

The last time the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, it was summer of 2006 — back when Shakira was topping the music charts, Barry Bonds was breaking home run records and the housing bubble was still inflating.

That's quite a while ago.

In fact, the Fed has been depressing interest rates for so long that, in their adult lifetimes, millennials have never seen anything other than cheap loans for homes and cars.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This week, you'll hear lots and lots about the Federal Reserve, or "the Fed" as its friends call it.

The Fed is considering raising interest rates — and will announce that decision on Thursday. If the central bank were to act, it could have an impact on your financial life, forcing you to eventually pay more for car loans, credit cards, home equity loans and more. Or if you're a retiree with savings, a rate hike could boost your income.