In suspending its previous plans to continue raising rates this year, the Federal Reserve signaled that its march toward higher interest rates may be ending sooner than expected.

The Fed’s chairman, Jerome H. Powell, said economic growth remained “solid” and the central bank expected growth to continue. But in a sharp reversal of the Fed’s stance just six week ago, Powell said the Fed had “the luxury of patience” in deciding whether to raise rates again.

“The case for raising rates has weakened somewhat,” Powell said, pointing to sluggish inflation, slowing growth in Europe and China, and the possibility of another federal government shutdown.

“My colleagues and I have one overarching goal,” Powell said at a news conference on Wednesday after a two-day meeting of the Fed’s policymaking committee, “to sustain the economic expansion.”

The Fed left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at its first meeting of 2019, a decision that was widely expected. What surprised markets was the indication that rates, which are in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent, may stay put for some time.

Read more in The New York Times.