Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell assured Americans that policymakers will do what it takes to curb surging inflation, acknowledging this could cause "some pain” as the U.S. central bank deployed its most powerful policy tightening in decades.

The Fed on Wednesday raised interest rates by 50 basis points for the first time since 2000 and Powell said similar moves were on the table for June and July. Still, investors took heart that he also pushed back against a larger 75 basis-point increase, with stocks notching their largest rally on the day of a Fed meeting in a decade.

"I’d like to take this opportunity to speak directly to the American people,” Powell said at the start of a post-meeting news conference in Washington, held in person for the first time since the pandemic began. "Inflation is much too high and we understand the hardship it is causing, and we’re moving expeditiously to bring it back down.”