Fed sees stronger economy but wants further gains before starting to hike key interest rate

The Federal Reserve says the U.S. economy has strengthened since a slump early this year but wants to see further gains in the job market and higher inflation before raising interest rates from record lows.

The Fed is giving no timetable for a rate hike but says it expects the economy's gains to accelerate later this year. Many analysts say that if the economy keeps improving, the Fed will likely raise its key short-term rate in September. That rate has been held near zero since 2008.

A statement issued after the Fed's latest policy meeting notes that the job market, the housing industry and consumer spending are all improving. The Fed's assessment contrasts with its previous statement in April, when it noted that the economy weakened during winter.