Fed hold rates low after economy 'paused'

The Federal Reserve left its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged Wednesday, saying the US economy had "paused" in recent months largely due to transitory issues.

The Fed kept its record-low key interest rate between zero and 0.25 percent, as expected, to push down long-term interest rates to boost the economy.

"Growth in economic activity paused in recent months, in large part because of weather-related disruptions and other transitory factors," the Federal Open Market Committee, wrapping up a two-day meeting, said in a statement.

The FOMC noted that job growth was rising at a "moderate" pace but the unemployment rate "remains elevated."

It said it would continue its $85 billion a month bond and mortgage security purchases to support a stronger economic recovery.

The easy monetary policy "will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens," it the panel said.

The announcement came the same day as the government estimated the economy contracted for the first time since 2009 in the fourth quarter of last year.

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