Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, indicated last week that the central bank might increase its emergency lending rate to widen the spread between that and the main policy rate. Still, markets were caught off guard Thursday when the Fed raised the discount rate, prompting officials to say borrowing costs will remain low. "The modifications are not expected to lead to tighter financial conditions for households and businesses and do not signal any change in the outlook for the economy or for monetary policy," the Fed said.

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