WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve says it will further slow the pace of its bond purchases because a strengthening U.S. job market needs less support. But it's offering no clear signal about when it will start raising its benchmark short-term rate.
Most economists think a rate increase is at least a year away despite signs of rising inflation. In a statement after a meeting, the Fed is reiterating its plan to keep short-term interest rates low "for a considerable time" after it ends its bond purchases, which have been intended to keep long-term loan rates low.
The Fed is also downgrading its forecast for growth for 2014, acknowledging that a harsh winter caused the economy to shrink in the January-March quarter. In addition, the Fed has barely increased its forecast for inflation.