Fed spells out how it will forecast rate changes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve has specified how it will begin signaling when its benchmark interest rate will rise and what the rate will be at points in the future.

Four times a year starting Wednesday, the Fed will show in a chart the year when Fed officials predict they will begin raising the rate. Another chart will show individual Fed members’ predictions for the rate at the end of 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The more explicit guidance is part of the Fed’s effort to make communications with the public more open.

The Fed has left its key short-term rate at a record low near zero for the past three years. In August, it said it planned to leave the rate there until at least mid-2013, unless the economy improved.