Fed keeps monetary policy intact

March 20, 2013 at 5:03 PM

WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve made note of a modestly improving economy Wednesday, but said it would maintain its accommodating monetary policy intact.

The Fed's Open Market Committee said it would continue to purchase $85 billion in assets each month -- $45 billion in Treasury securities and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities. The central bank also said it would leave its federal fund rate -- the overnight rate it charges for bank-to-bank loans -- at zero to 0.25 percent, an historic low rate it has maintained since December 2008 in an effort to fuel economic expansion.

The Fed said a pause in economic growth in late 2012 has ended with "a return to moderate economic growth."

"Labor market conditions have shown signs of improvement in recent months but the unemployment rate remains elevated," the bank's policy-making committee said in a statement.

The bank said inflation remains below its target rate.

"The committee also anticipates that inflation over the medium term likely will run at or below its 2 percent objective," the statement said.

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