Fed likely to raise rates a quarter-point

Federal Reserve policy-makers were widely expected to raise target for the federal funds rate to 2.25 percent from 2 percent on Tuesday, their last regularly scheduled session of 2004.

The meeting got under way in the morning; an afternoon announcement was expected.

That would mark the fifth increase this year in the funds rate, the interest banks charge each other on overnight loans. That rate is the Fed's main tool for influencing economic activity.

Since June, when the Fed's rate-raising camp