March 17 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve on Wednesday opted to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged and indicated it's likely to remain near zero through 2023 as the United States recovers from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency said the pandemic "is causing tremendous human and economic hardship" across the globe. Though economic activity and employment have seen a moderate uptick in recent months, sectors of the economy most negatively affected by the pandemic have remained weak.
"Overall financial conditions remain accommodative, in part reflecting policy measures to support the economy and the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses," the Federal Open Market Committee statement said.
The FOMC said it wants the United States to achieve maximum employment and inflation above 2% -- it's currently maintaining below that figure -- in the long run.
"The committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at zero to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the committee's assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time," the statement said.
U.S. markets erased earlier losses following the news as the Dow Jones Industrial Average ultimately gained 189.42 points, or 0.58%, to close above 33,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 erased a 0.7% loss and ended the day up 0.29%, while the Nasdaq Composite wiped out a 1.5% loss to climb 0.4%.
Apple fell 0.65% and Microsoft dropped 0.28% as tech stocks struggled early in the day as the 10-year Treasury yield jumped to 1.689% early in trading but fell to 1.64% after the fed update.
Disney stock grew 0.51% as Disneyland President Ken Potrock announced that the California park will reopen to state residents at the end of April, more than a year after it shut its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.