The Federal Reserve concluded its meeting Wednesday and signaled it saw room for an interest-rate hike in March.

In a statement that followed a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed noted that it saw the fundamentals of the economy as on an upward trajectory. It acknowledged concerns about the number of COVID-19 infections nationwide and ongoing supply chain issues, but described market conditions as “accommodative” to a rate hike.

The FOMC said that it saw room for an interest-rate increase to curb rising inflation. It did not specify how much it would raise rates by, but the decision on whether or not to go through with this hike was deferred until their next meeting in March.

“It will soon be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate,” the Fed said in a statement after the meeting ended.

As Fed officials gathered for their two-day meeting on Tuesday, there was little expectation that this meeting would result in an interest-rate hike. The central bank had previously indicated that it would begin hiking rates in March to coincide with the expected end to the pandemic-era stimulus spending. 

In its statement, the Fed said it would execute one last asset purchase of $30 billion to "foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions.” Also released was a fact sheet containing the Fed's principles for reducing the mammoth size of its $9 trillion balance sheet.

Dan North, a senior economist at Euler Hermes North America, described the Fed as “behind the curve” for not ending its tapering sooner. 

"At the December meeting, the Fed moved up the time frame for tapering purchases," North told International Business Times in an email. "But tapering is not stopping purchases. It is merely slowing the pace. The Fed is still doing quantitative easing."

In December, Fed officials outlined three quarter-percentage-point interest-rate hikes that it would initiate in 2022. Previously, the central bank was much more dovish in its projections and did not expect to raise rates until 2023. However, the surge in inflation last year and the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 forced the Fed into moving up its plans for a rate hike.