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Fed holds rates steady, QE2 to end on schedule

Fed holds rates steady, QE2 to end on schedule (by Greg Robb)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday left its key interest rate at an historic low range of 0% to 0.25% and said its $600 billion bond-buying program would end as scheduled on June 30. Inflation has picked up and the Fed now says the economic recovery is proceeding at "a moderate pace," but the central bank still said the inflation pickup will be temporary and the jobs market is still a concern. The decisions were widely expected. The FOMC made only few changes to the language of the policy statement it issued in March and did not give guidance on the outlook of policy after the end of quantitative easing. The FOMC repeated that rates are likely to stay low for an "extended period." The Fed gave itself flexibility by adding that it would "adjust" its holdings of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities as needed. Attention now turns to Fed chairman Ben Bernanke's first-ever news conference scheduled to begin at 2:15 p.m. Eastern. The Fed will also release its updated economic forecasts for 2011 and 2012 just before the press conference begins.

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Fed holds rates steady, QE2 to end on schedule