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Federal Reserve keeps interest rates unchanged

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said interest rates will remain at 0% to 0.25%. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said interest rates will remain at 0% to 0.25%. Pool Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve left its benchmark lending rate unchanged Wednesday and indicated it's likely to remain near zero as the United States recovers from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency said that though the pandemic has caused "tremendous human and economic hardship" across the country, economic activity and employment have continued to recover. Still, they remain "well below" levels at the beginning of 2020.

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Interest rates will remain at 0% to 0.25%, the same level since March.

The Fed also committed to continue buying at least $120 billion worth of bonds each month until the United States reaches full employment and inflation remains at 2%.

"Together, these measures will ensure that monetary policy will continue to deliver powerful support to the economy until the recovery is complete," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a news conference.

He added that disinflationary pressures globally, including weaker demand and declines in oil prices, have kept consumer price inflation down.

Going forward, the Fed said the economic recovery will "depend significantly" on the future spread of the virus.

Public health officials began rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, but it will take months for enough vaccines to become available for everyone who wants one.

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