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The Federal Reserve announced yesterday it will maintain its target for the federal funds rate in the 0 percent to 0.25 percent range, and expects economic conditions to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period of time. “Information … suggests that economic activity continues to strengthen and that the labor market is stabilizing,” the Fed said in a prepared statement.
“Household spending is expanding at a moderate rate, but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit. Business spending on equipment and software has risen significantly,” the Fed said. “However, investment in nonresidential structures is declining, housing starts have been flat at a depressed level, and employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls.
“While bank lending continues to contract, financial market conditions remain supportive of economic growth. Although the pace of economic recovery is likely to be moderate for a time, the Committee anticipates a gradual return to higher levels of resource utilization in a context of price stability,” the Fed said.
The Fed also said it would end its program of purchasing mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help keep home loan rates low. That program will conclude at the end of this month when the Fed’s mortgage bond holdings reach the $1.25-trillion limit it set last year.